More a creative collaboration than a simple page-to-screen adaptation, Neil Jordan's finest film since THE COMPANY OF WOLVES takes the irrepressible hero (or is it heroine?) of Patrick McCabe's uproarious 1998 novel on a series of picaresque misadventures, many of which Jordan and McCabe have written specifically for the screen. Left on a church doorstep in the small Irish village of Tyreelin by his unmarried mother, and raised by draconian barmaid Ma Braden (Ruth McCabe), Patrick Braden (Cillian Murphy) always knew two things about his origins. His father is the town priest, Father Bernard (Liam Neeson), and his mother, who worked as the good Father's housemaid before she gave birth and moved south to London, looked exactly like film star Mitzi Gaynor. With clusters of buttons adorning his drab Catholic school jumper and bugle beads affixed to his shirt collar, a teenaged Patrick — who much prefers being called "Patricia," or even better, "Kitten" — is riding the androgynous, early-70s Glam Rock craze into full-blown transvestitism, and is well on his way to becoming a town scandal. A night out with his best friend Charlie (Bianca O'Connor), and her IRA-connected swain, Irwin (Emmet Lawlor McHugh), often finds Patrick resplendent in platform shoes, elephant bells and a faux-fur Eisenhower jacket, all in a bright canary yellow. When life with Ma Braden finally becomes intolerable, Patrick packs his bag and heads out in search of his long lost mother and, hopefully, a man who'll treat him as lovingly as the guy in that Bobby Goldsboro song, "Honey." Instead, Patrick briefly joins a traveling glitter-rock band, runs afoul of the IRA, finds work first as a "Womble" (don't ask) then as a prostitute, and is nearly murdered by a john (a very creepy Bryan Ferry) before he winds up in a London jail, mistaken for a cross-dressing IRA terrorist. Memories of THE CRYING GAME (1992) immediately spring to mind — particularly during the scene in which the sudden revelation of Patrick's true sex gets him into a heap of trouble — but the film has more in common with Jordan's other McCabe adaptation, THE BUTCHER BOY (1997), which also charts the rich inner-life of an Irish lost boy. Jordan and McCabe's real triumph here, however, is the tenderness with which they imbue "Kitten," and the astonishing grace with which the extraordinary Murphy pulls it off. In his soft, airy falsetto, the cheerfully indomitable Patrick provides a running commentary on the action, treating his tumultuous life as if it was someone else's story. If he didn't, Patrick explains, he'd simply have to cry at every turn.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: R
- Review: More a creative collaboration than a simple page-to-screen adaptation, Neil Jordan's finest film since THE COMPANY OF WOLVES takes the irrepressible hero (or is it heroine?) of Patrick McCabe's uproarious 1998 novel on a series of picaresque misadventures,… (more)