Film Reviews


By • Jan 26th, 2007 •

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The Weinstein Co. / Miramax Films/ MGM / A Mirage Enterprises production
R-Rated / 119 minutes

Weepy. Rich people morals.

Director/writer Anthony Minghella fetishized Jude Law in THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY. He was also able, with terrific source material by Patricia Highsmith, to create complex, interesting characters. The homosexual subtext was perfect. Minghella re-teamed with Law in the boring COLD MOUNTAIN, and now here again. Minghella likes to work with the same actors: He has directed Juliette Binoche in the weepy THE ENGLISH PATIENT and Ray Winstone in COLD MOUNTAIN.

THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY must have been a fluke.

With BREAKING AND ENTERING, Minghella sets his story in modern-day London. Will Francis (Jude Law) is an architect whose highly successful company, that he runs with his partner Sandy (Martin Freeman), is revitalizing a decaying neighborhood by designing a vast, sophisticated urban project. They are building their offices in a huge former factory. King’s Cross is a community besieged by lawlessness and immigrants who have escaped war and poverty in their native countries. Warned about the neighborhood, Will and Sandy get to work building their vision of a new city landscape without anything green.

Will’s long-time girlfriend Liv (Robin Wright Penn) has a troubled 10-year old daughter Bea (Poppy Rogers), that Will has raised as his own. But Liv is cold, distant, and wrapped up in Bea’s frail, and temperamental, emotional state. Liv doesn’t really appreciate Will’s affection for Bea or the fact that he is putting up with her constant tantrums.

Liv refuses to marry Will so he begins an affair. That will show her.

Will and Sandy’s building is being burglarized on a frequent basis by a gang of teens led by Bosnian Miro (Rafi Gavron). These kids train to jump buildings, use binoculars to get the security codes, and fence the office equipment. The African cleaners are suspect and instead of hiring a security team, Will decides to camp outside and do surveillance himself.

This is where Will meets his first diversion – a Romanian prostitute, Oana (Vera Farmiga). They spend nights sitting in his car watching the building. Will is lonely for someone female to talk to about his “hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow.” Oana works naked under her coat. One night, so caught up in his conversation with Oana, he almost doesn’t see Miro scaling his building. Jumping out of the car, he chases Miro to the small apartment he shares with his mother, Amira (Juliette Binoche).

Instead of promptly calling the police, he finds out that Amira is a tailor and he starts bringing her his clothes to alter. Because Will is lonely and needs someone female to talk to, he immediately begins an intense affair with Amira.

Maybe rich people morals say ‘the hell with crime. The insurance company will cover our losses.’

So why is Will cheating on Liv? He keeps weeping and telling her ““I love you. I love you. I love you.” Why doesn’t Will care that he is endangering his business by allowing repeated burglaries? Unless crime is stopped, what hope is there for the neighborhood? Shouldn’t the boys responsible be stopped? Unfair suspicion has fallen on Sandy’s crush, an African woman who cleans for them. Regardless, Will keeps his investigation to himself. He even invites Miro to visit the company!

And what about Amira and Miro? If these two are so close, how come Amira knows nothing about her son’s criminal activities? Doesn’t she know he has someone else’s expensive laptop? If Miro is such a good boy, why isn’t he in school? Why does he lie to his mother? Why should he be saved from deportation or prison?

Amira finds out that her son is known to the police and Will has been his victim. She will not allow Will to testify against Miro. She decides to blackmail him.

The resolution, with Liv acting like no woman I have ever, or will ever, know indicates privileged people have different morals.

Minghella, knowing well the volatile immigrant problem in London, does not judge his characters. In fact, he might be making it worse by not condemning criminal acts by 15- year-olds. Leaving judgment up to the audience is risky since Miro clearly does not deserve a pass. I also am disappointed with how Minghella’s directing seemed tired and lacking vitality and energy. Law should give up on Minghella after BREAKING AND ENTERING.

Screenwriter-director: Anthony Minghella
Producers: Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella, Timothy Bricknell
Executive producers: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Colin Vaines
Director of photography: Benoit Delhomme
Production designer: Alex McDowell
Costume designer: Natalie Ward
Music: Gabriel Yared, Underworld
Editor: Lisa Gunning

Will Francis: Jude Law
Amira: Juliette Binoche
Liv: Robin Wright Penn
Miro: Rafi Gavron
Bea: Poppy Rogers
Sandy: Martin Freeman
Oana: Vera Farmiga
Bruno: Ray Winstone

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