DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Breakfast On Pluto

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Aaron Silverman, Apr 21, 2006.

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  1. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Breakfast On Pluto

    US Theatrical Release: November 16, 2005 (Sony Pictures Classics)
    US DVD Release: April 18, 2006
    Running Time: 2:09:07 (29 chapter stops)
    Rating: R (For Sexuality, Language, Some Violence and Drug Use)
    Video: 1.85:1 anamorphic (Extra Features: 1.33:1 non-anamorphic)
    Audio: English DD5.1 (Extra Features: English DD2.0)
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese (Extra Features None)
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English (Extra Features: None)
    Menus: Not animated.
    Packaging: Standard keepcase; insert features cover images from other Sony Pictures Classics titles on both sides.
    MSRP: $24.96

    THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 4/5

    ‘Tis an overly serious world we inhabit, and it doesn’t always take kindly to folks of a light-hearted nature. Striking that rare balance between enjoying life and dealing with its responsibilities and challenges is something that we all face, and no two people deal with it in the same way. Breakfast On Pluto follows the adventures of one extraordinarily unusual person as he learns to reconcile his whimsical nature with the darkness around him.

    Almost from the moment of his birth, Patrick Braden (Cillian Murphy) heads down an unusual path. Abandoned in a basket on the local priest’s doorstep in a small Irish town, he is given by the priest (Liam Neeson) to a neighborhood pub owner to rear as her own. As he grows, his budding sexuality, which develops into full-blown transvestitism, becomes a nightmare for the straight-laced businesswoman who took him in. Needless to say, a boy in makeup and his sister’s dresses does not go over very well in the repressive Catholic atmosphere of 1960s Ireland. Conflict at home and Catholic-school hijinks ensue.

    Patrick, or “Kitten” as he prefers to be called, eventually learns the identity of his real parents. With no hope of true acceptance at home or in school, he sets off for London to find his mother. Perhaps then he will experience the love and family that have so far eluded him. But the quest feels quixotic from the start – what can he really expect from the woman who gave him up so many years before? In a way, though, it does seem logical, since his hometown doesn’t hold any better prospects.

    When Kitten embarks on his journey, he’s still a rebellious child in spirit if not in body. Although he’s used to clashing with his adoptive family and with the clergymen who attempt to teach him, he still has not faced true danger or been forced to support himself. That all changes very quickly once he’s on his own. Not only is he without a roof over his head, he’s ventured into the midst of a major terror campaign involving the IRA and its enemies. Wherever he turns, guns and bombs are not far away. Young Kitten seems incapable of taking any of it very seriously, which leads to a number of sticky situations.

    Along the way, Kitten meets a series of unusual characters who each bring him a little wisdom about the world. He thinks he’s finally found true love with a traveling glam rocker (Gavin Friday), but he may have discovered terrible danger instead. A hard-drinking, pugilistic fellow (Brendan Gleeson) provides Kitten with employment at a children’s park by day and trips to seedy bordellos at night. And a strange, symbiotic relationship develops between Kitten and a magician with a very twisted sense of humor (Stephen Rea). Is Kitten allowing himself to be exploited by the illusionist, or are they both knowingly accepting a little degradation to get just a bit of what they desire?

    Kitten is not without true friends, however. His three childhood playmates, also misfits in the eyes of their peers, remain in the picture as they become adults. Laurence (Seamus Reilly), who suffers from Down’s Syndrome and loves Daleks more than anything, is completely shielded from the outside world by his pure innocence. Irwin (Laurence Kinlan) takes the opposite tack, involving himself with the IRA and its struggle while trying to keep his distance from the violence. Somewhere in the middle is Charlie (Ruth Negga), Irwin’s girlfriend, who tries to have fun but tends to keep things more clearly in perspective than her three pals do. Even the pragmatic Charlie, however, reaches the point where she can’t go it alone and runs to Kitten for help. The eventual fates of Laurence, Irwin and Charlie reflect their abilities to see things for how they really are.

    Breakfast On Pluto uses flowery, poetic language and kooky touches like narrating birds and creative flashbacks (not to mention Kitten’s glam wardrobe and matching soundtrack) to create the atmosphere of a fable, even though the actual events of the plot are played out in a realistic, sometimes dark and gritty way. The sex and violence are non-explicit and often are only implied (despite the film’s ‘R’ rating, which is perhaps a bit of a stretch). This keeps the viewer at a distance, which, along with on-screen chapter titles, adds to the film’s storybook nature.

    Mention should also be made of Cillian Murphy’s thoroughly original portrayal of Kitten. Absurd and fabulous as Kitten is, she is no stereotypical drag queen or comical ham. Her manner is certainly affected, but not to the point of caricature. Her childlike nature always shines through, even when the situation is deathly serious. Murphy sometimes makes the audience cringe at Kitten’s nonchalance, but always keeps them rooting for her.


    THE WAY I SEE IT: 3.5/5

    The image is pretty solid, if unspectacular. There’s plenty of grain, and while for the most part it’s clearly a product of the film, at times it seems slightly unnatural. There’s about as much detail as could be expected in a stock this grainy. The colors are nearly always slightly off, but I get the feeling that they appear as the director intended them to. Sometimes a bit oversaturated, sometimes a little washed out, they do fit the film’s surreal atmosphere and glam-rock setting. Digital artifacts are quite minimal, and barely noticeable in the grain, giving the picture a nice filmic look. I spotted a touch of edge enhancement here and there, but it was pretty unobtrusive.


    THE WAY I HEAR IT: 4/5

    While there are occasional effects, the soundtrack consists almost entirely of center-channel dialogue and an immersive, 5.1-channel background of glam rock. The effects aren’t much to write home about, but the rest of it is excellent. Despite a broad dynamic range and thick Irish accents, the dialogue is always clear. The music, a mix of well-known and obscure numbers, carries the viewer right back to the early ‘70s.


    THE SWAG: 1.5/5 (rating combines quality and quantity)

    Commentary With Director Neil Jordan and Star Cillian Murphy

    This is a standard-issue track, mostly scene-specific but with a few random digressions. They sometimes drift into mumbling, which combines with the accents to make some parts difficult to understand. Overall, it’s pretty decent -- neither especially good nor especially bad.

    Behind The Scenes of Breakfast On Pluto (8:57)

    A few interviews with cast and crew interspersed with some behind-the-scenes footage. There’s some interesting discussion of the evolution of the film, but nothing terribly exciting.

    Trailers
    • Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada (1:56) (DD2.0; 2.35:1 anamorphic)
    • Art School Confidential (1:14) (DD5.1; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • Cache (2:09) (DD5.1; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • Why We Fight (1:54) (DD5.1; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • Capote (2:10) (DD2.0; 2.35:1 anamorphic)
    • The White Countess (1:56) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • Thumbsucker (2:16) (DD2.0; 2.35:1 anamorphic)
    • Junebug (1:59) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • The Passenger (2:09) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • Memoirs Of A Geisha (2:35) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • London (2:02) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • The Dying Gaul (2:20) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • The Squid And The Whale (2:31) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • The Tenants (2:10) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)

    SUMMING IT ALL UP

    The Way I Feel About It: 4/5
    The Way I See It: 3.5/5
    The Way I Hear It: 4/5
    The Swag: 1.5/5


    Breakfast On Pluto is a wacky, disturbing, funny, sad, thoughtful tale of one outcast’s epic struggle against the seriousness of the world. More episodic than traditionally structured, it follows its fun-loving-in-the-face-of-adversity hero as he learns to reconcile himself with life’s challenges, represented most brutally by a constant undercurrent of IRA terrorism. Being as original as it is, it may not have universal appeal, but it certainly accomplishes what it sets out to do. The A/V quality of the disc is pretty solid, although there could probably have been more in-depth special features. Overall, it’s a clever piece of work with a highly original protagonist, and it's well worth checking out.
     
  2. Matt Fisher

    Matt Fisher Second Unit

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    Nice review, I actually just rented this the other day and saw it for the first time. I feel like I missed a lot of lines because the accents sound like mumbling sometimes, but Neil Jordan's style is definately different and Murphy gave a great performance, worth checking out for those who haven't seen it yet.
     
  3. eric tengren

    eric tengren Stunt Coordinator

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    This is a good review.I hope this dvd will lead to THE BUTCHER BOY finally being released.
     
  4. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Glad you guys enjoyed the review!

    Matt, don't forget that you can turn on the subtitles if you missed any lines. (Sometimes they aren't included on discs with non-American accents, which is silly if you ask me. Thankfully, they're on this one.)
     
  5. Matt Fisher

    Matt Fisher Second Unit

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    Ah I didn't even think of that, unfortunately the disc is already on its way back to netflix but I will keep that in mind for the future, thanks Aaron.
     

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