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Kitten: And the other thing about the Phantom Lady was, Bert, she realized, in the city that never sleeps...that all the songs she'd listened to - all the love songs - that they were only songs.
Bertie: What's wrong with that?
Kitten: Nothing, if you don't believe in them. But she did, you see. She believed in enchanted evenings, and she believed that a small cloud passed overhead and cried down on a flower bed, and she even believed there was breakfast to be had...
Kitten: On Pluto. The mysterious, icy wastes of Pluto.
The film stars Cillian Murphy as Patrick Braden, a transgendered orphan (who prefers to be known as Patricia, or “Kitten”) growing up in rural Ireland near the border with Stroke Country in the 1970’s. Ostracised in her home town and obsessed by the secrets surrounding her birth, she heads off to London in search of the mother who abandoned her.
Also stars Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea and Brendan Gleeson.
This movie contains examples of:
- Attractive Bent Gender: Cillian Murphy makes a stunningly beautiful girl.
- Berserk Button: John Joe is prone to psychotic outbursts.
- Break the Cutie: Kitten.
- The Cameo: Bryan Ferry makes a brief appearance as a rather creepy and murderous "customer" of Kitten's.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Kitten. She often behaves quite bizarrely and has an extremely unique take on the world, building up an elaborate pseudo-mythology around herself. At times, she seems to genuinely believe she’s living a fairy tale (to the point of full-blown Sanity Slippage) but there are moments when she shows real insight into her situation and basically admits that she clings to her fantasies because the truth is too painful:
Mr. Silky String: And just who is this “Phantom Lady”?
Kitten: Well, it’s my mother really. I call her that…to pretend it’s a story…that’s happening to someone else, you see?
Mr. Silky String: Why do you pretend that?
Kitten: Because otherwise I might cry and never stop.
- Costume Porn
- Creator Cameo: Patrick McCabe (the author of the original novel) makes a cameo as “Peepers” Egan, the school-teacher who yells at Kitten for writing a pornographic story.
- The Danza: Liam Neeson as "Randy Father Liam". Presumably this was done on purpose, as the character from the novel was actually named Father Bernard.
- Dawson Casting: Cillian Murphy was about thirty when he played the teenage Patrick/Kitten. Admittedly the film spans several years, so the age discrepancy isn’t quite so bad by the end of the movie. Plus he looked a good deal younger than he was. But he is still only two years younger than the actress who plays his biological mother!
- Deadpan Snarker: Charlie. Also Kitten at times, who somehow manages to combine this with elements of The Cutie, the Cloudcuckoolander and The Pollyanna.
- Door Step Baby: Kitten was left on Father Liam’s doorstep as a baby, and was sent to live with an unloving foster mother, Ma Braden.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady
- Dropped a Bridget On Him: "Christ, you’re a bloke!"
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Even the Guys Want Him: Or should it be Even the Girls Want Her? Either way, we’re all very confused. And aroused.
- Except for us bi/pansexuals. Er, that is to say, we're not confused. We're definitely aroused.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Kitten during her street-walking days.
- Improvised Weapon: When one of Kitten’s “clients” tries to kill her, she defeats him by spraying Chanel no. 5 in his eyes.
- humorously reference later on in a fantasy sequence where secret agent Kitten takes down a hardened IRA cell with her "anti-terrorist spray"
- Kill the Cutie: Lawrence, the sweet kid with Downs syndrome.
- London Town: "The biggest city in the world...and it swallowed my mother up."
- Meaningful Echo: "Robins, would you believe it, Father! Pecking at the cream."
- Missing Mom: The film’s narrative is basically driven by Kitten’s desperate search for the mother who abandoned her.
- Ms Imagination
- Parental Abandonment
- Pet the Dog: the two police officers who were questioning Kitten seem to grow fond of her, and one of them even finds a job for her at a peep show in order to keep her off the streets.
- The Pollyanna: Kitten, much of the time. Though the mask does slip on a fair few occasions.
- Porn Stache: Mr. Silky String.
- Random Events Plot
- Black Comedy Rape: The bizarre story Kitten writes for class about her conception.
- Sanity Slippage: During the police interrogation scene, Kitten seems to have pretty much lost her mind (understandable, as she’s been beaten to a pulp and not allowed to sleep for days).
- The Seventies
- Stroke Country: the first half of the movie takes place just across the border from here. Several characters (Erwin, Billy Hatchet, Those Two Bad Guys) are IRA members who seem to be using the place as a safe haven.
- The Troubles: several characters are either IRA members or sympathizers, and Kitten is wrongfully accused of planting a bomb in a bar in order to kill some soldiers on leave.
- Title Drop: Twice.
- Too Dumb to Live: Kitten at certain moments, though she often has little choice but to wander into life-threatening situations. Still, her sudden decision to throw Billy Hatchett’s guns in the lake was obviously going to have dire consequences. Then again, she was extremely upset at the time due to Lawrence’s death. Plus she doesn’t ever really seem to quite follow the same logic as the rest of the world.
- True Companions: Kitten, Charlie, Erwin, and Lawrence when they were growing up. At the end of the film there's another one consisting of Kitten, Charlie, Charlie's baby and probably Father Liam
- The Unfavourite: Ma Braden blatantly prefers Kitten’s “sister”, Caroline. Possibly because she adheres to conventional gender roles.
- Unreliable Narrator: Most probably the case.
- Wholesome Crossdresser