Murphy stars in gender-bending laffer

In a return to the edgy Irish territory of “The Crying Game” and “The Butcher Boy,” Neil Jordan is set to direct “Breakfast on Pluto” for Pathe Pictures this year.

Set in the 1960s and 1970s, pic is a black comedy starring Cillian Murphy as Patrick “Kitten” Brady, an abandoned child who escapes from his foster home in small-town Ireland to become a transvestite and a performer in London.

In an echo of “The Crying Game,” cross-dressing is mixed with Irish politics, as Kitten’s quest for his family unfolds against the backdrop of paramilitary violence.

Jordan has adapted the screenplay from the 1998 Booker-shortlisted novel by Patrick McCabe, who also wrote “The Butcher Boy.”

“Although there are elements of ‘The Crying Game,’ “The Butcher Boy’ and also ‘Mona Lisa,’ this film has a lighter and more comedic tone, with a lot of music, too,” said Pathe managing director Francois Ivernel.

Jordan will shoot the movie in September before he embarks on the big-budget family f/x pic “Me and My Monster” for producer Laura Ziskin at Columbia. That project is likely to shoot in spring 2005.

“Breakfast on Pluto” will be produced by Alan Moloney, who previously made John Crowley’s “Intermission” for Company of Wolves, Jordan’s shingle with his longtime producing partner Stephen Woolley. Woolley, who is developing his own directorial debut “Brian Jones,” will also take a producing role on “Breakfast on Pluto.”

Jordan’s last pic was “The Good Thief” in 2002. His ambitious project about the Borgias was supposed to shoot in 2003, but could not pull together its financing. Jordan still hopes to return to “Borgia” after “Me and My Monster.”

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