Making a seismic thematic and geographical jump from the stylistic pummeling of the flashy and underappreciated The Good Thief, Neil Jordan, in his adaptation of Patrick McCabe's novel Breakfast on Pluto, returns with mixed results to queer territory. The remarkably versatile, ubiquitous Cillian Murphy (Red Eye, Batman Begins) delivers an amusing hero as Patrick "Kitten" Braden, who begins his picaresque adventure from dreary Ireland to swinging London after being left as a foundling on the steps of Father Bernard (Liam Neeson), the village priest.

Born to be different, Kitten slips easily into a femme persona and into the female clothes he was apparently destined to wear. He is also a dreamer, a survivor and a person with a quest: to find his birth mother in London.

The identity of the father is a twist almost as worthy of Jordan's The Crying Game, which haunts Breakfast in several ways, including the return of Stephen Rea and some oblique sociopolitical commentary hidden in the thicket of the plot.

Breakfast follows Kitten from the '50s through the '70s and is as much a jukebox of the pop music that spanned those decades as it is a portrait of the hero's journey. In fact, the explosive music track of vintage hits helps propel the action, which, attenuated and highly episodic, needs such propulsion. The many chapter headings merely serve to remind and reinforce this often seemingly never-ending story.

With a mean foster mother and barely two farthings to rub together on escaping her grip, Kitten appears poised to be more victim of circumstance than mistress of her own universe. Run-ins with bikers, an ill-advised lover with I.R.A. ties, and tacky jobs in theme parks don't stop this orphan on a mission to find love and family.

In London, the increasingly feminized Kitten walks the streets, finds work with kindly but cheesy magician Bertie (Stephen Rea), works in drag as a cabaret artist and finds herself a suspect in an I.R.A. bombing-the nastiest bump on the road to salvation and discovery. But spunk, imagination, undying hope and a zest for life keep Kitten afloat. Can anyone imagine she won't find her mum?

Despite its lively music soundtrack, this is a long film that audiences will either love or dismiss. Critical response may be so much blarney; word of mouth will tell all.

-Doris Toumarkine