Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Alternate Best Actor 2005: Cillian Murphy in Breakfast on Pluto

Cillian Murphy did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Patrick/Patricia "Kitten" Braden in Breakfast on Pluto.

Breakfast on Pluto, which features just about every famous Irish actor in existence, is a film that's interesting but does not quite fully come together about the misadventures of an atypical foundling in Ireland.

Cillian Murphy plays the naturally challenging role of a transgender character. This is a bit different than say an Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl though. The film's tone is more irreverent than self-satisfied, and the character is of a different nature. Patrick/Patricia, or just Kitten, is who Kitten is really from the first time we see the character as an adult. There is no "transformation" period in Murphy's performance, though that might partially stem from a far more intelligent acting choice, but in terms of the character there is no moment where Kitten undergoes any surgery for example. Kitten just starts out being Kitten, and that is that. This still offers a challenge nonetheless to Murphy, in fact it also guarantees that if part of his performance isn't working none of it really will. Murphy though is basically an actor who only takes on challenges. He's an actor who has perhaps been associated best in the mainstream in his creepy role as the Scarecrow in the Dark Knight trilogy, from 2005 as well, but looking through his filmography there is no trend in terms of the roles Murphy takes.

Murphy's performance is entirely out on a limb because of that as he must create a rather unique presence as Kitten. Again though he has the advantage from starting at this point as Kitten already exhibits feminine physical mannerisms. Now Murphy deserves a great deal of credit in this regard given that he seems far less natural at first when dressed in a schoolboy's attire, but when in Kitten begins to wear dresses suddenly everything about his performance seems as it should be. That's not a criticism against his initial portrayal when Patrick is school, rather Murphy so effectively realizes the idea of the character embracing exactly who they want to be. Murphy is equally impressive in his vocal work here as he manages as higher pitched voice for the character that never seems forced or unnatural for even a moment. This is a bit different than director Neil Jordan's previous foray into somewhat similair subject matter with The Crying Game that we know the biological gender of the character from the outset, hey even old Stephen Rea gets a heads up this time, but seeing his work here, Murphy might have been able to pull off Dill in that film as well.

This is not just some sort of technical accomplishment by Murphy though, but rather a springboard to realize Kitten past this distinguishing aspect to the character. Kitten technically speaking is not atypical just for that one element by any means, and Murphy realizes a most unique presence with his performance. Murphy brings this energy to his work that really is quite something to see from the man who one could see brood so effectively in his villainous turns. Kitten is about life though and Murphy realizes that with the sheer exuberance he brings to his performance. A running element in the film is the way that so many take a liking  to Kitten, and not necessarily in a lustful way. Murphy is just rather wonderful in the part as he succeeds in making Kitten's energy just oh so very endearing. It isn't what one would always call subtle, but nor should it be. Murphy makes this convincing in that he's not in your face yet he's in no way quiet. What Murphy projects is this desire for a happiness, even when it is not even true at the time, that is so charming that it's hard to dislike Kitten.

The film isn't a great film by any means, in that it has a great central character, but it doesn't really know what to do with Kitten. The film kind of jumbles around from comedy to drama with the drama either coming from Kitten searching for biological mother, or dealing with social problems in Ireland itself. The film never quite balances the tone perfectly, in that kind of fails to build towards anything, but Murphy does balance the tone within his performance. Murphy's trick to this though is to merely keep Kitten consistent as a character, and everything that comes from Kitten is entirely genuine due to how effectively Murphy finds his character. Murphy is especially strong in the way he interacts with the rest of the cast, and is astute in playing against them in order to bring out what's best. This includes the directly comedic scenes involving Brendan Gleeson, or the semi-comedic ones involving Stephen Rea. Murphy always allows the humor to come naturally from Kitten eccentricities flowing together with the similarly eccentric men into some entertaining madness. On the more dramatic side there are the relationships with the local priest (Liam Neeson) where Kitten's connection is stronger than one would expect, or the eventual pseudo connection with Kitten's mother. In these scenes Murphy finds a real poignancy in revealing the tender desire in Kitten for a real acceptance, as Murphy so beautifully plays the vulnerabilities in Kitten when the reunion is attempted yet aborted. When there is finally someone who recognized Kitten as his own, Murphy makes it surprisingly heartwarming as he brings such joy in Kitten finding a place to be loved. The film never quite makes use of what Murphy fully. We get fits and starts of ideas, but the film does not articulate this into something special. Nevertheless Murphy's work standing out on its own is a remarkable accomplishment.

51 comments:

Giuseppe Fadda said...

Sounds like a very interesting performance, can't wait to see it.

Calvin Law said...

Thoughts and ratings for the rest of the cast?

Also, your ranking of Neil Jordan films.

Luke Higham said...

Great performance, though I hope he gets a 5 at some point. Maybe not Red Eye, but hopefully in Dunkirk next year.

Louis: As of now, his best work is in Peaky Blinders.

Alex Marqués said...

I just saw The Witch. I'm so glad the two actors from the film are going to be reviewed.

Luke Higham said...

Alex: Your ratings and thoughts on the cast.

Varun Neermul said...

Watching the Neon Demon... Jena Malone and Elle Fanning are amazing.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Who do you think was more badass: Bogart or Cagney?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Neeson - 3.5(Felt he was curiously underused before the reason for his character became clear. Then I thought he was quite affecting in his portrayal of a man trying hard to overcome his own trepidation to reveal his genuine love, his vocal performance in the strip booth scene was especially moving.)

Rea - 3.5(An enjoyable performance as I felt he managed not to take his character's quirks too far well making a genuinely believable in creating the sort of sweet yet somewhat exploitative relationship with Murphy.)

Gleeson - 3.5(He's one note which is just fine because it is a hilarious bit of madness from good old Gleeson)

Negga - 3(I felt her whole plot line felt underdeveloped. I felt her performance was good enough just on its own though, but the writing never served her all that well.)

1. Mona Lisa
2. The Crying Game
3. Breakfast on Pluto
4. Michael Collins

Anonymous:

Cagney by virtue of Bogart playing such a wimp in Angels with Dirty Faces.

Calvin Law said...

Yeah I'm always impressed by how wimpy Bogie was in AWDF.

Mona Lisa over The Crying Game, huh? Well I can't argue with that, it's a great film too, though the latter will always be my favourite. What do you think of these 2010s version of both those films?

George: Burn Gorman (I know, I know, but I think he might have it in him)
Simone: Ruth Negga
Mortwell: Michael Sheen
Thomas: Angus Macfayden

Fergus: Cillian Murphy
Jude: Claire Foy
Jody: Nonso Anozie
Dil: Jacob Anderson
Col: Peter Mullan

Calvin Law said...

Or Ben Whishaw for Dil; or as you said in your review have Murphy as Dil...and Whishaw as Fergus. Now THAT would be interesting.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Louis, have you watched any anime over the years?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

For Mona Lisa:

Gorman's an interesting choice actually, it would intriguing to see how he would do with a complex character like George, plus you need a non-traditionally handsome actor for the part. An alternative though could be Rory McCann, though he might be a little too physically imposing for George. Negga's the perfect choice for Simone.

Though I think Sheen would work as Mortwell, I'll say Daniel Day-Lewis for the role though that is more improbable than the remake itself. He'd kill it though.

For The Crying Game:

Problem with Whishaw and Murphy now is they are both too known, and I'm not sure about Anderson. Dil's a hard role to cast obviously.

Murphy would be a great Fergus though.

Robert:

Not really. In terms of both films and television, the genre is my worst blindspot.

Michael McCarthy said...

Ok this is random, but does anyone else think that Murphy looks like a blonde Emily Blunt in this picture?

Calvin Law said...

^this. They actually look like they could be siblings in real life too.

Calvin Law said...

And yeah, Day-Lewis would be a fabulous Mortwell, but no way he'd take on such a relatively minor role.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on Caine, Neeson and Roache in Batman Begins.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your rating for Gerda Maurus in Woman In The Moon.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Just got out of Fantastic Beasts. It's actually pretty good. Redmayne's surprisingly endearing.

Luke Higham said...

Robert: What about Farrell.

Luke Higham said...

Robert: And Fogler.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Farrell is pretty good. Fogler is funny and thankfully not annoying, though I'm not convinced his character needed to exist.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Any classic actor/director collaborations that you would have liked to see that never happened?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Rating and thoughts on Zeta-Jones in The Mask Of Zorro.

94dfk1 said...

I'm expecting Redmayne to show up on either the top or bottom of Alternate Best Actor for 2016, since he is very polarizing around these parts haha. We shall see soon when Louis watches Fantastic Beasts, if he does get to it.

Calvin Law said...

Without having seen Fantastic Beasts, I doubt Louis will give him a bottom-dweller score. It just doesn't seem like a role you could mess up that badly, and also seems right up his street.

Luke Higham said...

94dfk1: I doubt he'll be at the bottom this year. Robert liked him and Louis doesn't wholly hate him as an actor. I expect a 3 or a 3.5.

Louis: Seen anything new this week.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'd actually give him a 4 or 4.5. As it turns out some of his odder tendencies as an actor worked perfectly for Newt as a character. Surprisingly his mannerisms and physicality came off as natural compared to his outings from last year.

There were two performances I didn't care for in the film. I'm personally baffled how so many people liked Sudol's bizarre Ellen Greene impression, and there's a cameo that I won't spoil that is by far the worst thing about the movie.

Luke Higham said...

Robert: Another shitty brief appearance from You-Know-Who. :(

Unless Jared Harris is cast as Dumbledore, any excitement I may have had for the sequel, has just gone down the drain.

Anonymous said...

=D we all know who the cameo is though lol so its not really spoiling since its been in every headline on the internet lol unless you mean from a story point of view.

Anonymous said...

A clue perhaps? does he overact or something?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Let's just say the stunt casting is obvious and the two lines he has are reminiscent of Mortdecai.

Luke Higham said...

Everyone: Which ten years from the Bonus Rounds, are you looking forward to the most.

Pre-1928
1968
1973
1981
1988
1993
1994
1999
2010
2012

Anonymous said...

Luke:
Pre-1928
1936
1940
1945
1949 (For a certain supporting performance) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ78B5KOrnc
1957
1959
1963
1968
1973

RatedRStar said...

I do have that certain performance in my good old spreadsheet lineup so he might appear, I am sure Louis would find it an interesting film considering it came from 1949 of all years =D.

I honestly dont know if there is a year I am looking forward 2, I personally am happy with them all if I am honest lol.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: Have you completed your 2015 lineups, because Ralph Fiennes is great in A Bigger Splash.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Intruder in the Dust will also be interesting for Louis because it has similarities to To Kill A Mockingbird.

Anonymous said...

*RatedRStar: Intruder in the Dust will also be interesting because it has similarities to To Kill A Mockingbird.

Calvin Law said...

Not gonna lie, 1951 and 1958 because I want to see what Louis thinks of one of the most underrated films of all time.

RatedRStar said...

Calvin: Would that be that film that I kept saying I needed to watch but still haven't even though I believe someone uploaded the link =D

RatedRStar said...

Luke: That is the only one that isnt because I feel there are lots 2 find.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: I posted the link, though he might be referring to that Quayle film.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: A Bigger Splash had an Italian Release in November 2015.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2056771/releaseinfo?ref_=tt_ov_inf

RatedRStar said...

Luke: What was your 2015 lineup currently?

Anonymous said...

Patriots Day is getting positive reviews so far, another good entry to the Oscar lineup that is starting to get very crowded now.

There are still films like Fences, The Founder, Allied, Passengers and Silence to come that have yet to be reviewed while I have no confidence in Collateral Beauty at the moment lol.

Aside from Billy Lynn every Oscar Contender so far has had fine to great review scores at the moment.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar:
Geza Rohrig - Son Of Saul
Christopher Abbott - James White
Ralph Fiennes - A Bigger Splash
Staight Outta Compton Leads
Arnold Schwarzenegger - Maggie

Supporting's incredibly thin.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: The Daniel Thornton Hong Kong emergency film service can help with that =D lol.

I wonder what Matthew McConaugheys "Gold" will be like, any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Luke: Is Arnie good in Maggie?

Alex Marqués said...

I've seen a lot of praise for Josh Lucas in The Mend.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: He's rather excellent and it's his best performance to date.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I saw Edge of Seventeen. I really loved it, but I love those sort of movies in general. Steinfeld gave my favorite performance of the year so far in it. Also loved Woody Harrelson.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Caine - (He offers his usual support quite well, and essentially sets up Alfred well as a funny yet poignant feature in the trilogy. A lot of the jokes I'd actually say don't work in Begins but the ones that do often are from Caine who brings them so naturally with his work. In addition he honestly creates a warm surrogate father relationship in his scenes with Bale, and especially the scenes with young Bruce)

Neeson - (I don't think he quite becomes Ra's Al Ghul, the way Murphy, Ledger and Hardy do become their respective villains. At being Neeson as the mentor/villain though he definitely brings the right gravitas in the training scenes, then adjusts effectively to a real menace without going over the top)

Roache - (Obviously a short performance though he is rather moving in portraying the good nature of Thomas Wayne in a genuine fashion. He makes the impact he needs to, and is more than just a plot point.)

Zeta-Jones - (One of her better performances actually. She plays into the archetype of the role rather well, in bringing he kind of fiery spirit about in the right way, which is helped most by her strong chemistry with Banderas)

Anonymous:

Clark Gable/Billy Wilder
Cary Grant/Ernst Lubitsch