Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Anthony Minghella is an A list Hollywood director of some note with a bright shiny Oscar sitting on his mantle, the crazy respect of his peers, and if you’ve seen any of the man’s films, he paints about as pretty a picture with film and light as any director working today.  So it may be film blaspheme to say, that with the possible exception of ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ I haven’t cared much for the Director’s films.  That would include the universally lauded, multiple award winning ‘The English Patient’.  Has that son of a bitch died YET?  Die already!  Truth be told, I actually liked Italian directors’ Liliani Cavani’s version of Ripley with ‘Ripley’s Game’ much more that Minghella’s anyway.  This brings us to Minghella’s latest film ‘Breaking and Entering’ which though lovely to look at and superbly acted, still failed to involve this film watcher into its narrative.

Jude Law is Will Francis, a forward thinking, creative, driven London architect who along with his partner Sandy (Martin Freeman) are designing the office structure of the future in a particularly seedy part of town.  Will also has a long time live in girlfriend in Liv (Robin Wright-Penn) with whom the magic seems to be gone.  Liv also has the added burden of her thirteen year-old, mildly autistic daughter Bea (Poppy Rogers), and Wills’ thinly veiled resentment toward Bea and her the numerous issues she brings to the table. 

On the other side town, Bosnian seamstress Amira (Juliette Binoche) is having a devil of a time trying to control her teenaged son Miro (Rafi Gavron) who looks to be a Parkour acrobat, with the ability to flip, jump, and scale walls with amazing ease.  Unfortunately Miros’ uncle has found usage of these particular skills of Rafi’s and is using the boy to break into various buildings and disable the alarm codes so that he and his partners can rob the various establishments to supply their fencing business.

After the second break-in into Will’s building, he starts staking the place out and catches the boy before he can enter the joint, and follows him home.  But something stops the man from calling the authorities, and it would appear to be Rafi’s milfesque mom Amira.  On the pretense of needing some darning done, he strikes up a relationship with the woman which eventually leads to the eventual, but it is a complex pairing.  Dishonesty, deceit, confusion and deception are the orders of the day as these two lovers struggle to come to grips with who they are and what they are doing.

I’ll say this much for Anthony Minghella, I sure do admire his ability to convince his actresses to get all nekkid and stuff.  Not only do we get see the lovely Ms. Binoche go all full monty on us, which was outstanding by the way, but we also get a chance to look at Vera Farmiga’s go topless in her completely throw away role as a heart of gold Russian prostitute.  The only problem with looking at Ms. Farmiga’s breast was that in the role she was playing, she was obviously a cheap, trampish, hardened, down on her luck street walker as was clearly demonstrated on her beleaguered face, but, uh, those were the breasts of a woman who certainly takes fantastic care of self.  Seriously.  It may have have been a stunt tit though since I have no references to compare it with.  Yes, I know that this doesn’t have a DAMN thing to do with the movie or its content, but there it is anyway.  I tell you, if I EVER make a movie, Anthony Minghella will be my supervisor of nudity operations.

About the movie though, at least when it began, based on Benoit Dellhome’s excellent cinematography and Minghella’s acute visual eye and framing, ‘Breaking and Entering’ was shaping up to be a winner.  On top of an award worthy performance from Binoche how could it go wrong?  With the exception of Binoche’s Amira, it was nearly impossible to connect or sympathize with any of the principle characters in this film and their incessant whining.  Jude Law, who is about as charismatic an actor as there is working today was completely unsavory as the selfish, self centered Will, which could have been his goal with the character, but Will was never infused with enough humanity to cause one to root for him, even when he has his eventual epiphany.  The same goes for Ms Wright-Penn’s character of Liv, whose motivation was completely lost on me.  Call it lack of chemistry, but Liv and Will seemed as if they should have never been together in the first place as neither was able to make us believe that was ever any love in that relationship.  No sympathy could be garnered for the larcenous Miro and his exploits either.  It was cool watching him leap over tall buildings with a couple of bounds, but he too was a whiner and wasn’t worthy of his eventual epiphany either.  Even the autistic Bea rode a nerve, the only emotion extracted from this viewer is the emotion to have her institutionalized. 

Ah but Ms. Binoche!  Seeing her all wet and naked and all was certainly appreciated, but she is one spectacular actress, able to transmit the emotions and motivations of her character with just one frazzled look or exhausted gaze.  Her performance alone was worthy of the price of admission.  If I had paid to see this, that is.

Overly long and overly whiny, Anthony Minghella’s ‘Breaking and Entering’ was a disappointment.  The outstanding performance by Juliet Binoche and the various naked women running around offsets the tedium of this melodramatic tone, but only a little bit.

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