Imagine an infant born to an unwed mother in a small, provincial town in Ireland, in the early 1950s. Imagine the tiny baby being left at the doorsteps of the Parish priest who finds a dutiful, but hardly loving foster family to raise the child. Imagine this child, around the age of eight or nine, discovering his predilection for girls’ clothes and make-up — and it wouldn’t surprise you to find a deeply troubled, depressed, distrustful, and confused boy. Not so our foundling Patrick Braden, who prefers to be called Kitten. He, or rather she — that’s how Kitten feels and thinks about herself — accepts that she is different, doesn’t try to fit in with the ordinary crowd, and stays true to herself even when this results in more difficult, rather than easier, circumstances.
Kitten stubbornly refuses to get bogged down by the seriousness of the “real world”. However, she’s not a mindless party-girl with a head full of fluff, not at all. She’s more like a wise Chinese sage, smiling detachedly at the follies everywhere around, while at the same time fearlessly jumping right into the thick of it. Or she is like a saint; early on, she warns us: “Not many people can take the tale of Patrick Braden, aka St. Kitten, who strutted the catwalks, face lit by a halo of flashbulbs as ‘oh!’ she shrieks, ‘I told you, from my best side darlings.’ ”
If you can take his/her tale, you’ll follow Kitten’s many adventures, both dangerous and funny, as she travels to London on the search for her mother. I’ll mention just one: she gets picked up by a distinguished-looking gentleman in a Mercedes who turns out to be a psychopathic murderer trying to strangle her (Brian Ferry in a cameo role). But she gets away. She always does.
If I had anything to do with Oscars, Cillian Murphy most certainly would have won one for his portrayal of Patrick/Kitten Brady. He is simply terrific, looking very feminine and glamorous while maintaining an awkward innocence that makes Kitten so unique. Murphy is quickly turning into one of my most highly regarded contemporary actors. We just saw him in Perrier’s Bounty, another excellent Irish movie with a superb cast.
A quick tip: unless you’re quite familiar with the Irish dialect, you might want to have the subtitles running. English isn’t my native language, and without the subtitles, I’d be seriously lost.