i wanted to like this film and its not all bad, but to be perfectly honest its slow and wrought with problems.
the whole of the story is actually quite interesting but getting to it is hard because it is simply difficult to sit through long enough to let it develop. in short: a boy is orphaned at birth and brought up in a catholic family and school. he dreams of meeting his mom who abandoned him while rebelling against the church/school priest who give him some information about his mom. its that desire to find his mom which drives the film, both in a sense that he seeks out information about her, eventually leading traveling to find her, and also in a sense that this woman represents a type of hollywood glamor that the boy aspires to. the plot then dwells on the young transgendered boy rebelling against his priest and then his adoptive family, wandering around poor, taking meaningless jobs, and falling in love with a man who is involved in guerrilla warfare. all the while parsed in a drama about being trans.
eventually, s/he finds the mom and her new family (though he does not reveal to her that s/he is her child). then s/he learns who her real dad is. which is actually fairly interesting as well as a bizarre but somewhat touching relationship that develops out of it. by the time this comes about, you have already had to sit through a lot of seeming random events which i assume is meant to show you how disorienting her life was. ultimately its a lot of nothing, having little bearing on the story itself. its a mistake and an overly long and costly one. although i generally liked the movie, i nearly didn't sit through it. i was so bored with it. i can say i'm glad i did because i found the story to be interesting, but i'll also say that i won't sit through it again, ever.
it should also be said that what really makes the story hard to sit through is the lousy acting of the main character, played by cillian murphy. cillian is not a bad actor, mind you, and makes a lovely girl. i get that they were trying to cast someone that appears feminine, but the acting is not convincing. it comes across as someone trying to act like they are gay. trying rather than an convincing portrayal. not quite parody, just missing the mark by far. and its that unconvincing portrayal coupled with the portrayal of the randomness of "outsider" waif existence that just drudges down the whole works.
too bad, it could've been a good movie. instead its a movie that few will see and fewer yet well get anything from it.