Breaking and Entering

Director: Anthony Minghella

As he explains on the DVD of his latest release Breaking and Entering, English Patient director Anthony Minghella first began working on the script in play format with the intriguing idea of looking at a crime that uncovers deeper morality issues that reveal that the criminal is the most innocent character and the victim more infinitely guilty. In the same behind-the-scenes feature producer Sydney Pollack shares his belief that the title Breaking and Entering actually examines a wide array of topics from culture, society, and business and especially love and relationships both familial and romantic. It all sounds terribly important and the cast of the film are first-rate but unfortunately the overall product is a bit dull, somewhat forced and with an ending that feels far too clean and rushed for a man responsible for such masterful work as The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain. Jude Law (who worked with the director in both aforementioned films) plays Will, an idealistic architect opening a new business with partner Sandy (Martin Freeman of BBC’s The Office) who, in addition to his work-related struggles, tries to reconcile his difficult home life with long-time live-in Swedish girlfriend (Robin Wright Penn) and her talented but challenging, autistic gymnast daughter Bea (Poppy Rogers). Set in the melting pot and crime-infested neighborhood of London’s King’s Cross, we also find ourselves involved in a second plot involving English Patient Oscar winner Juliette Binoche as Amira, a widowed Muslim mother who has fled to England from Bosnia along with Miro, her Serbian teenage son. Forced to work as a seamstress, Binoche fights to give her rebellious son a bright future, however he keeps falling into a life of crime influenced by local friends and relatives. After Miro (Rafi Gavr) breaks into Will’s architectural firm twice, Will begins a neighborhood stakeout along with Sandy and a local Russian hooker (The Departed’s Vera Farmiga who provides the dour film with much needed bursts of humor). One night he follows Miro to his home and Will becomes drawn to Amira with whom he begins a torrid affair, that although begins with the initial believable stirrings of heat, becomes quite clinical and un-involving once the two actually begin a sexual relationship. Soon the film that begins as an astute character drama becomes more concerned with ideas such as who is using whom but it isn’t as filled with the depth it purports, despite terrific performances and so many wonderful ideas by Minghella that aren’t developed enough to work in the limited running time so that ultimately the film feels a bit phony and cheaply concluded. It's a great attempt and I'm sure, had the play ever been completed, it may have been far more successful on the stage.