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There is a compelling need for redemption in Anthony Minghella's characters. The need itself is so blatantly human that sometimes, you have to look away. The plea of the characters is as diverse as it is identical. Don't ask me to explain, I may ruin the whole thought just by trying an intellectual explanation when in fact it only makes sense viscerally. Jude Law is back in top form and I for one want to cheer. He is extraordinary. Extraordinary! Juliette Binoche's Bosnian mom is another miracle of truth in her already magnificent gallery of truthful characters. Her son, played beautifully by Rafi Gavron doesn't allow us to take anything for granted. Robin Wright Penn's Liv is truly Bergmanesque and provides the perfect icy foil for Jude Law's longing. I came out of the theater drained and reinvigorated. That in itself is a huge recommendation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jude Law plays Will, an architect who lives with Liv (Robin Wright
Penn), a documentarian and her behaviorally challenged daughter. After
a series of break-ins at his office, Will begins staking it out in
order to find the culprit. This puts an extra strain on his already
tenuous relationship with Liv. One night, he sees a young man breaking
in. He shouts to him, and when the kid runs away, Will pursues him.
Will follows the kid, Miro, to his apartment in a rundown area. At once he becomes entranced by Miro's mother Amira, an refugee from Serbia who works as a seamstress. Will invents reasons to keep coming back to see Amira. They soon begin an affair. He out of lust, boredom and a lack of intimacy at home. Amira has ulterior motives. She believes if she keeps sleeping with Will he won't turn in Miro.
As Will grows closer to Amira, he begins to pull away from Liv. The tension and uneasiness grow until the spacious rooms of their posh townhouse are full of all the things they can't seem to say to each other.
Anthony Minghella uses this setup to explore the issues of trust, love and honesty in the intertwining relationships of these characters. As always, he proves himself to be an intelligent and insightful writer. His story and characters are authentic and every emotion is real. He is also an outstanding director. He has an excellent sense of pace, tone, and the composition.
The entire cast is fantastic. Jude Law gives his most mature and honest performance to date. Juliette Binoche's accent is superb and she finds the soul of Amira. Robin Wright Penn excels at playing emotionally distant women and she is able to communicate all of Liv's submerged emotions with small gestures or looks. Rafi Gavron, who plays Miro, despite this being his debut, holds his own among these seasoned pros.
Benoit Delhomme's muted grey-tinged cinematography is drastically different than his golden sun burnished work in The Proposition, but no less beautiful. Walter Murch's editing is near flawless. Gabriel Yared has collaborated with Karl Hyde and Rick Smith to create a score that is rich and modern.
The unexpected coming to alter what is already our daily routine. Doing something for one specific purpose without realizing that we are being lead by fate , I presume, to an existential cul-de-sac. This is the stuff that fairy tales are made off, also great drama, great comedy and all the natural ingredients of what is laughingly known as our daily existence. This is Minghella's most moving film to date - and that is saying something. His obsession with darkness hidden in his characters hearts is as universal a theme as unrequited love. Minghella loves his characters and the darker they are, the stronger the love. I didn't love Jude Law this much since Mr. Ripley and Juliette Binoche is heart breaking. Brilliant. I sat in silence after the film was over. Tears running down my face. It hadn't happened to me in many many years.
How does one choose a film to view? Often it is the subject matter -
here the fraught relationship between landscape architect Will and both
his partner of 10 years Liv (who has an autistic daughter) and his new
lover Amira (who has a thieving son). Sometimes it is star - in the
case, Jude Law who has to choose between his American partner who has
an obsessive approach to parenthood (Robin Wright Penn) and his Bosnian
refugee girlfriend who works as a seamstress (Juliette Binoche). Other
times it is the director - on this occasion, Anthony Minghella who
writes as well as directs as he returns to the north London milieu in
which he located "Truly, Madly, Deeply".
All of these are reasonable reasons for wanting to see "Breaking and Entering", but I confess that it was the supporting French actress Juliette Binoche that drew me to the work. I've been in love with her ever since her first English-language appearance in "The Unbearable Lightness Of Being" in 1988. She is simply beautiful in a bewitching manner, while always convincing as an actress, especially in vulnerable roles.
This is a multi-layered work in which the title can be taken in three ways: the obvious sense with the robberies perpetrated by Amira's son Miro; the deeper sense with Will's emotional assault on Amira; and still another sense as the middle-class Will and his like invade the traditionally working-class area of Kings Cross.
Those who need car chases or special effects in their movie experiences should avoid Mighella's parable, but those who value thoughtful and nuanced works will find much to admire here.
Minghella's 'Breaking and Entering' is an excellent modern tale set in London that revolves around the relationships of (1) a "green" company director, (2) his longtime Swedish girlfriend and (3) a Bosnian immigrant. Admittedly I am not a big fan of Jude Law (what self respecting individual is!?) but he plays his part so efficiently it was a masterstroke casting him in the lead role. His character is trite seemingly disinterested and frequently irritating but wholly believable and realistic. He may come across as a London male stereotype but as said Law is so convincing it does not matter it just adds to the realism. Wright Penn is fantastic as his troubled Swedish girlfriend. She has to look after her 10 year old daughter suffering from ADD while struggling to feel appreciated and loved by the vacuous Law. Wright Penn fits the bill ably. Her character may be not perfect, her role at the end of the film is somewhat lacking in self respect and is slightly humiliating and desperate following a very selfless action she takes in helping out someone else, but again the films strength is its realism not its heroics. But the star of the film is the magnificent Binoche. Her performance is easily the best female performance I've seen in a film... ever! She plays the suffering mother of a troubled youth and lost her husband years before. She becomes entangled in a relationship that she should avoid but, as she states herself, it has been years since anyone showed her affection so she is vulnerable to an advance. There are two scenes which exemplify Binoche as the best actress in the business; when she decides to take pictures of her sleeping lover against his knowledge, she tries to make it look like she enjoys it but immediately reviles with disgust and disgrace, and when she descends to desperate begging from her lover for his help. Both scenes are so powerful you will be moved very much. The film has a number of subplots and social commentaries (and a few funny moments: look out for the scene in which one character states "Latte's have been drunk" you'l understand when you see it) but I will not dwell on them as they are secondary to the excellent performances of its cast. An engrossing and enjoyable film, make it a priority to see it.
BREAKING AND ENTERING takes you inside the council housing of London
and the rough edges of Kings Cross with a look at the difference in the
relationships of a Bosnian Refugee and her son, in contrast to that of
a London Architect and his partner, and her autistic daughter. When
their paths meet through "breaking and entering" their stories collide
in a film with solid performances from the cast.
Remembering the bombing of Kings Cross in 2005, and having lived in that area as a graduate student at London University, the film location was such an interesting match for the darkness of the characters, and their own issues and complexity. The shots of the Camden Locks, and the trees that dot the water, made the story come alive with watching Law and Binoche, and the son, Miro, each with their own problems to solve.
BREAKING AND ENTERING is a timely film as it shows the "melting pot" of London with its different races and refugees who have created a city of millions who have arrived in England to escape their past. And that is also the case of Robin Wright Penn's character and her daughter from Sweden. The characters journeys come to a conclusion which fits the theme of redemption and moving beyond the past. A very complex, but a satisfying film.
Being a fan of Jude Law was essentially the incentive to go and watch
this film. Before the film actually started i was unaware of the overt
plot. Set in the outskirts and center of King's Cross, with modern
architecture and two 'families' with contrasting backgrounds seem to
intrigue me. Without detailing the film too much, the concept seem
simple, and common. Yet it seemed to be so well crafted and intricately
devised. Jude Law gave a very honest and truthful and convincing
performance alongside Robin Wright Penn, the sleep deprived worn
girlfriend. Penn gave a delicate yet fierce performance particularly at
the end, when she lashes out at Will for all the preceding predicaments
that he had caused. Juliette Binonche, a french actor with a wide range
of persona skills depict the sense of solemness to a high degree. Her
accent was very realistic and above all her presence was credible.
Though this film has the intentions of establishing a dramatically intense atmosphere, the tension breaks with a touch of crude humour when the prostitute appears. Although strictly speaking this would normally be facetious, it works perfectly well.
With the film's score weaved in the background, it creates a 5 star film. The actors give an almost impeccable performance, and will ensure a string of credits to their name.
Like most of Minghella's films, 'Breaking and Entering' is visually
very appealing. It has a very polished look but at the same time it
portrays London in a very stark realistic way. The nightlife and
daytime on the streets is well captured. Production design and art
direction are fantastic. Delhomme's cinematography is wild. The frame
and compositions are outstanding. Whether it's a wild red fox running
through the streets or the sequence with Will chasing Miro, they have
been skillfully executed. The rich score flows smoothly with the story.
'Breaking and Entering' can be viewed as a study of characters and their complex relationships. In the centre of the story we are introduced to Will (excellently played by Law) who's a stranger to his own long-term girlfriend and her daughter as a result of which he seeks affection elsewhere, Liv (played by a wonderful Penn) who's a depressed mother and lover, Amira (a mind-blowing Binoche) who's a widow struggling to make a living for herself and her son and Miro (by confidant newcomer Gafron) who's a teenager trying to support his mother by making quick money. In addition there are several interesting characters such as Bruno (played by a vivacious Ray Winstone) the chatty good-hearted CID, Sandy (a funny Martin Freeman) the friend who might have found the 'love of his life' and Oana the philosophical prostitute (by a brilliant and barely recognizable Vera Farmiga). All the actors do a solid job of bringing them to life.
Minghella also provides a light insight into the lives of immigrants and he does a good job of suggesting, in a subtle way, how life for immigrants living in England is different from that of Brits. He also cleverly shows how the actions of one character leads to having an influence on the lives of another character. The turn in their lives happens from the moment Will sees Miro trying to break in. Eventually it is shown how the character realize what is broken in their lives and what needs to be repaired. A lot of symbolism is used quite effectively, like the wandering fox referring to Will's loneliness and search.
Above all, 'Breaking and Entering' is Minghella's film and it's quite a change from his previous films which were set in different times (unlike the modern time period in this movie). It is this man who skillfully puts it all together. Even though sadly this great director is no more, his films will stay and 'Breaking and Entering' is just the right swansong.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In Anthony Minghella's "Breaking and Entering", multiple crimes are
committed against numerous people, but not all of them are prosecutable
in a court of law. Those subtle crimes are the heart and soul of this
often beautiful film, examining the way that the choices we make and
their consequences can have disastrous results we can never anticipate.
The film revolves around Will, an architect, played by Jude Law, who has just opened up a new base of operations for his planned reconstruction of the East End of London. He lives with his Swedish girlfriend (Robin Wright Penn) and her daughter, a nice setup to be sure, but we can tell that he is unhappy. Soon, burglaries begin to plague his business, and during a stakeout with his partner, played solidly by Martin Freeman, he catches the burglar in the act and chases him home.
Will goes to the young burglar's home the next day and meets his mother, played by Juliette Binoche. They soon start an affair that will have grave consequences for both when she discovers that her son has been stealing from Will. Deceit, blackmail, and thievery abound, and Will's life threatens to unravel.
And it should unravel. The main problem with the film is the script's refusal to let the characters truly reap what they have sown, and so the end of the movie is marked by a series of fortunate events that are a bit unrealistic, thus weakening the story. However, the film up to that point is excellently crafted, acted, and written. Overall, it is a moving piece by a skilled director, and can be enjoyed despite the dubious finale.
There's a lot to recommend this film. Principally there is the very
fine (another very fine) performance from Jude Law. His versatile and
grown-up performance glues the ensemble and the story strands together.
The support is top notch: Juliette Binoche is the pick of the rest,
thrown into chaos by her thieving son and Law's flaky contemporary
liberal; around her are a convincing neurotic (Penn), compassionate
urban realists (Farmiga and Winstone) and Martin Freeman playing an
almost cameo-like doppelgänger to Law. And I don't know where they
found Rafi Gavron who is brilliant as a first timer amongst such
The film has a couple of issues - it's almost pathologically organised with one-too-many similar themes investigated and resolved over its arc. The ending ties everything up too neatly.
Despite this the film manages to break the bonds of domestic or TV drama that so easily dog other British productions. London is definitely a character though. There are carefully chosen landmarks just off the tourist radar; even the estate where the immigrant family live is not a council dive but a flawed marvel of late 1960s architecture (The Rowley Way Estate in Camden).
A super film that, from its performances to its look, dispenses with preconception to examine the way modern individuals deal with one another in isolation. 8/10
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