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BREAKING AND ENTERING

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jude Law, Juliette Binoche, Robin Wright Penn, Ray Winstone, Martin Freeman, Vera Farmiga
Director: Anthony Minghella
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Weinstein Company
Features: See Review
Length: 119 Minutes
Release Date: May 8, 2007

“What are you thinking?”

“I was thinking…are you married?”

Film **

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie start out with so much promise, only to implode later in the proceedings. Anthony Minghella’s Breaking and Entering is a film that maneuvers in just such fashion. You get drawn into the film, only to be scratching your head midway through and saying the words “what the hell”? when the film ends.

Minghella has been an interesting case with me as a filmmaker. My mentor, Mike J, and I were never too fond of The English Patient. To this day, we still can’t figure out why it swept the Oscars in 1996. I also found his Civil War epic, Cold Mountain, to be extremely overrated despite a very deserved Oscar win for Renee Zellweger. The rest of the film, to me, seemed to be nothing more than a mushy, over the top emotional manipulator.

So you’re probably wondering why I would bother with another one of Minghella’s films. Well I do have a bit of faith in Minghella, mainly because he did make one film I loved, The Talented Mr. Ripley. With that film, he crafted a beautiful, complex mystery with such a huge exotic atmosphere that would even make Hitchcock extraordinarily proud.

Unfortunately, Breaking and Entering is more of reminder of Minghella’s flawed films rather than the sole remarkable film on his resume. The screenplay, which he wrote, can’t figure out quite what it wants to be. It takes so many unsatisfying turns before finishing itself in a questionable manner. I don’t doubt that Minghella was trying to make a point with this story, but I was left with no clue as to what the point was.

The story involves a British architect named Will (Jude Law), whose business happens to be located in one of the rougher areas of London. He is very much a workaholic, spending many late hours at the office due mostly to his dysfunctional family life. He is further isolating himself from his longtime girlfriend, Liv (Robin Wright Penn) and her ten year old daughter whom Will has helped to raise for more than ten years.

Following a couple of break-ins at his office resulting in stolen computers, Will attempts a stakeout in an attempt to catch the thief in action. He is successful in this, as the thief turns out to be a boy named Miro (Rafi Gavron). Will follows him all the way to his home, where he lives with his mom, Amira (Juliette Binoche).

Now here’s where the film starts to go south. Instead of reporting to the police about the criminal’s whereabouts, Will all of a sudden begins an affair with the boy’s mother. Of course, he hides the truth about what led him to her in the first place.

So it’s easy to see why the film falls apart so easily. The story takes a route that should’ve been avoided and gone elsewhere because there were so many opportunities, plot wise. Another reason I feel letdown by the movie may have something to do with the fact that the movie’s trailer promised a whole different kind of movie, more of a thriller to be precise.

The whole love affair story simply doesn’t work because it isn’t made clear why Will would think of engaging in an affair simply after seeing the boy’s mother from a distance that first time. It’s possible the two of them have some sense of longing for something, but the film should’ve gone further than that because that is pretty much a conventional plot device by now.

Though it has good intentions, Breaking and Entering is simply all over the map. The actors give it their best, but the movie itself can’t figure out what it wants to be. Had it properly followed through on the initial plot setup, there would’ve been something masterful here.

Video ****

Thanks to the incredible cinematography of Benoit Delhomme, the anamorphic presentation on this Weinstein Company release. The picture is nothing but razor sharp quality, with superb colors as a bonus. Both daytime and nighttime shots are rendered beautifully. Top-notch presentation!

Audio ***

Mostly a dialogue oriented piece, but the 5.1 mix gets the job done. Dialogue delivery is superbly clear. Set pieces help to provide nice background noise here and there as well.

Features ***

On the disc is a commentary track with Anthony Minghella, as well as 6 Deleted Scenes with optional commentary. Also included is a featurette titled “Lie, Cheat, Love, Steal: The Making of Breaking and Entering” and a Theatrical Trailer.

Summary:

Despite a good setup and a dynamite cast, Breaking and Entering gets a bit sloppy in its storytelling. As a result, it left me scratching my head wondering what exactly was the point of it all.

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