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Abandoned as a baby in his small Irish hometown and aware from a very early age that he is different, Patrick Braden (Cillian Murphy, 28 Days Later) is an endearing, deceptively tough young man. When he travels to swinging London in the 1970s and takes to the stage as a transvestite cabaret singer, he uses his wit and charm—and sometimes his fists—to make sure nothing gets him down, and nobody tries to change who he is. Co-starring Liam Neeson, Gavin Friday, Stephen Rea and Brendan Gleeson. Directed by Neil Jordan (The Good Thief, The Crying Game), based on the novel by Pat McCabe (The Butcher Boy).

 Breakfast on Pluto

Why make a comedy (of sorts) about a young man’s travails with clothes, gender, absent fathers and mothers, religion, terrorism, in Ireland and London of the 1970s? Maybe because the combination of absurdity and appalling reality was very like the situation the broader world finds itself in today. I was a young Irish kid in the seventies, adrift in London and while I was nothing like Kitten, the hero of Breakfast on Pluto, I can remember very well the nuance of those times, when the streets around you swirled with glam-rock, mandrax and make-up, but the place at home was being blighted by an ancient blend of mayhem whose only fashion statement was a combat jacket. The ferocity of the mayhem religion and politics visits on us now makes the seventies in Dublin and London seem like a dress-rehearsal. So I decided to make the film an object lesson in survival, about how a beautiful heart can triumph over every disaster life throws at it, how a good attitude and great clothes can mean more than all the rancid little ideologies that battle for our souls. Kitten wins in the end because he has more grace, more humour, and in the end, more charity than all the grotesques that confront him. And he has much better clothes. He takes his happy endings where he can find them—mostly out of the lyrics of pop-songs—and when the world seems determined to hand him a tragedy, he creates a comedy. So blessed be the meek for they shall inherit the earth and blessed too be those whose makeup runs when they cry and those who wear chicken-yellow flares.