Breaking and Entering review by Tom Blain
Whats in a name... A movie with the name Breaking and Entering sounds like your average run of the mill action drama. It brings back memories of the seemingly endless Ashley Judd movies; each one a shave different than the last. But sometimes a boring name can actually hide beneath it a well-done movie. Such is the case with Breaking and Entering, a movie written and directed by Anthony Minghella; a movie much more deep and interesting than the name.
Will (Jude Law) is an architect who has a life that looks good on the surface, but his 10 year relationship with Liv (Robin Wright Penn) is growing more and more distant. They have short arguments that lead to silence and no resolution. Liv blocks any talk about marriage because she has a problem with including Will in her family circle with her problematic daughter Bea. Bea is having problems sleeping and communicating (shes possibly autistic) and experiences extreme mood swings.
Wills life is disrupted when his architecture firm is robbed. The main man (or teenager) in the crime is an acrobatic Bosnian refugee boy Miro who has gotten involved with organized crime because it yields short term gains that school doesnt. As his reward for a job well done Miro keeps the laptop of Jude Law and after perusing the files becomes obsessed with his life to the point where he starts to study architecture.
On the other side of the crime, Will has an obsession of his own. After a second break-in isnt prevented by the cops, he begins to watch his building night after night. Aside from protecting his building he is also escaping his turbulant household and filling his life with new adventure. He pieces together some clues that lead him to Miros home and Miros mother Amira (Juliette Binoche). He befriends her in order to find more information, and but with each passing visit becomes more attracted to her and heads toward an affair.
Breaking and Entering is a well written story overall filled rich with dualities. There are two types of breaking and entering; one is in the physical sense (the actual robbery committed by Miro) and one is more emotional (Wills advances and seduction of Amira). Both are crimes but only one is really enforced by police. There are the two mothers who are struggling with problematic children. Amira, being a refugee, is a bit tougher than the easily depressed Liv. Both of the children are acrobatics, only Miro learns his on the streets, where as Bea goes through expensive lessons. This sets up the largest duality, the one between the citizens and the refugees. The detective even lays out bluntly how there are laws for citizens and then laws for refugees. Essentially citizens get lawyers, refugees go straight to jail. Breaking and Entering feels very much like an Ingmar Bergman film although I cant put my finger on which one in particular. Part of it stems from the character Liv (named after Liv Ullman?), a Swedish woman who cages up a lot of her emotions and eventually reveals them in depression.
Anthony Minghella directs, and does a great job of managing the story. Minghella is known for directing powerful dramas such as The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain (only the last of which I have not seen). Most of his other movies are built as epics from another time, where as this one takes place in modern times. Without the distractions of period beautiful sets, the movie did lag a little at the beginning, but he pulled together the ends of his story with a masters accuracy. Some may view the ending as a let down or a bit forced, but I felt it was a bit more refreshing than what could have happened.
Of all the actors, Juliette Binoche gives the best performance, as expected. Shes very convincing as the Bosnian refugee struggling to provide a better life for her son down to the accent. One of the most entertaining characters was Oana (Vera Formigna) the Eastern European prostitute who Will is oddly attracted to. He meets her one night while he is on a stake out to guard his own building. Eventually each stakeout turns into a meeting between Will and the outlandish street walker, but its not for sex; just for coffee and company. Martin Freeman is also comical if not under-used as Wills friend and business partner Sandy.
While not as good beautiful to watch as some of Minghella's other films, Breaking and Entering is expertly crafted, and probably would have crumbled in a lesser man's hands.
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