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Though I would rate it six out of ten, still it is one of the movies I got fully engrossed in, while watching it alone in a theater and couldn't stop myself writing a good review. It had few moments of emotional intimacy, likely to be impossible between complete strangers in real world, because we too often end up hurting people and a strange defense mechanism of formality exist among us, preventing such moments from happening. I am not a big fan of Jude Law, but he manages to seem believable and this one is not an exception. In the whole bunch of actors Juliette Binoche stands out, she has this hint of compassion in her expressions, making her look so beautiful, but it is her acting that makes this movie special and recommendable.
Breaking and Entering focuses on Will,(Jude Law) a landscape architect
who succeeds in business but finds his personal life is tougher to
navigate. He has been with Liv (Robin Wright Penn), for years, but it's
difficult to connect with her due to her worry over her autistic
teenage daughter. When Will catches a teenage boy named Miro (Ravi
Gafron) breaking into his office, he chases the thief home. He later
meets the boy's mother, a Bosnian refugee played by Juliette Binoche.
His anger at Miro is quickly transformed into attraction to his mother,
further complicating his relationship with Liv... I remember watching
Breaking and Entering more then a year ago but, at the time, I thought
it was a bit dull and slow paced and I ended up seeing only the first
half. After all this time, I decided to give the film a second try
mainly because it stars Jude Law, a great actor that usually does the
kind of films I like, emotional dramas, often very character-driven,
about relationships and the human nature. And that is exactly what
Breaking and Entering is, and this time around I truly enjoyed the film
even though it's far from being great. I guess you could say Breaking
and Entering is an acquired taste. Those looking for instant
gratification will be disappointed, on the other hand,those looking for
a cleverly-written adult drama will be pleased, I think. See, the story
is quite simple but the human nature is very complex, the reason why we
do the things we do, our emotions, why we respond to certain situations
in a certain manner, that's what's interesting about the story and it's
the kind of thing the film tries to tap into. Visually, Breaking and
Entering is quite stunning with beautiful cinematography and some great
locations. The film was well acted with Jude Law delivering the best
performance. In the end maybe the film should have been a little
shorter, it would probably please a wider audience, but, it's like I
mentioned before, Breaking and Entering is an acquired taste, it won't
please the masses, that's for sure but, for those like me, who enjoy
raw and realistic emotional dramas, I think it's a film worth watching.
Like most other people commenting here, I had watched many of Anthony
Minghella movies before watching this one. So I started with great
expectations and watched it carefully.
It is an intense drama and grips you till the end. Good, compact storyline. The casts did an amazing job. Juliet Binoche displayed one of her best performances. Excellent camera work. These are the things on the surface.
On a deeper level, the strength in the portrayal of human emotions depicted in the characters is the biggest success of the movie. Characters are multi-faceted, and like regular human beings full of contradictions and even plain-faced lies and yet in the core of their hearts is the ray of human love. The end of the movie made me a little emotional reflecting that this is how we are the humans.
A great movie and I would recommend it.
Don't be misled by the title. Even though there is some burglary in
this film, it is not the story of a crime. It is the story of a man,
two women, two children, and the complex relationships they endure
amongst themselves and those around them. If you are looking for an
extremely well acted and excellently produced adult drama, this is it.
Breaking and Entering offers us two families in crisis. Will Francis and his wife Liv - they refer to each other as husband and wife even though they are not legally married - have reached that point in their relationship where communication has ceased. There is further stress upon the relationship caused by the problems of Bea - her daughter, his stepdaughter whom he loves as his own. Bea appears to have some form of autism in which she cannot sleep and possesses unreasonable fears such as her fear of the color yellow. Needless-to-say, most of Liv and Will's time at home is spent dealing with the problems of their daughter.
At work, Will is a successful architect and developer who, along with his partner, is working on a massive renewal of the King's Cross area of London. In the film, King's Cross is an "iffy" area peopled mostly by members of the lower class - many immigrants from a variety of countries. Will's office is in a converted warehouse and is suffering regular burglaries which are somewhat of a mystery to the police because the criminals seem to have possession of the alarm codes. The cleaning crew is suspect, but Will and his partner think there is another answer. They begin to stake out the business at night.
Through the burglaries, we meet the other family in crisis. Amira is a Bosnian refugee who is struggling to make a life for herself and her son, Miro who - under the influence of his crooked uncle - is part of the team committing the crimes.
After an unsuccessful attempt at another break-in by Miro, Will follows him home but does not confront him. Will discovers that Amira does sewing in her home. He decides to try to find out more about the boy by taking some clothes to his mother to be altered. Things get really complicated when Will becomes enamored of Amira.
This film is filled with great actors and great performances lead by Jude Law as Will and Juliette Binoche as Amira. I must admit that I really like Jude Law as an actor and in my mind, Juliette Binoche can do no wrong, so just watching these two interact was an exemplary treat. The young actor, Rafi Gavron, who plays the son is amazing. Plus, these three are supported by a long list of excellent actors headed by Robin Wright Penn and Ray Winstone.
I find a certain weakness in the ending of the film in the reaction of Will's wife to the whole situation. I don't know any woman who would have made the decisions she made. To say more would spoil the film for anyone interested in watching it, so I'll just leave it at that. If you enjoy watching interesting and complex adults dealing with interesting and complex problems, you'll probably really enjoy Breaking and Entering.
I care a lot about the work of Minghella. There is a visual poetry
transversal to all his films, good or bad, which, although clearly
rooted in specific references, are quite personal and honest. I often
have the impression that throughout the whole movie he is showing one
single image, which is twisted, faded, slightly changed. So he is
coherent within his own personal world. He is abstract in the way he
weaves sensations and feelings which may not be directly related to the
story or the characters depicted. There is an element which always
plays in agreement with what he intends: the music by Gabriel Yared.
When (if) i come to comment on the English Patient, all these
observations will be more meaningful and make more sense (thus i will
feel the need to explore these links more). But, generally speaking,
these are the characteristics that trespass all of Mighella's films.
This is no exception. He chooses a location, strongly identifiable
(London), and he layers his poetic visual storytelling on it. He is
building his own city within the real location. No wonder the
protagonist is an architect. Nevertheless, the film has little to do
The thing is, there are filmmakers who operate (no matter what they are doing) mainly on a spatial world (Welles, Antonioni, Tarkovsky, dePalma...) and others rooted on image, or framed (Wenders, Lynch, Lang, Antonioni again...). Minghella is one of this second kind. He roots his visual story telling on framed image, and possibilities it gives to our imagination. It's as if the film we see here was the model the young thief builds along the film, and the characters were the small human models he places at his will. The need to escape (or the need to change) apparently drives the fate of these characters. The boy who searches the abstract space (architecture in process) to escape his marginal reality, Binoche who searches the affair to escape her solitude, Law who searches for the same affair to escape his difficult family life. Yared's soundtrack has here an interesting ambiguity between an epic vision and a cozy environment. Where i think this film fails (or at least doesn't succeed the way other films by this director succeed) is in its lack of energy. It's less vigorous than "mr ripley" and less meditative than "english patient". i suppose it's coherent to the world it depicts, but it's not as efficient or interesting as the world of the two other films. I face this as minor work by the director, but it's worth taking a look.
My opinion: 3/5
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The theme is "Breaking and Entering" but this movie is about
relationships. The crime is just there to get the characters to meet.
Interesting movie, not one of my favorites but good enough for one
Jude Law is Will Francis, co-partner in an architect firm situated in the Kings-Cross area of London, one known for petty crime. Their office has been burglarized several times, and it must be by someone who knows the alarm code. They suspect the cleaning crew.
Will has a 10-year partner, Robin Wright Penn as Swede Liv, who also has a 13 year old autistic daughter. Even though Will and Liv seem to get along well, he doesn't seem to be "inside the circle" which contains Liv and her daughter, even though the daughter refers to him as 'daddy.'
Will decides to stake out his building at night and eventually discovers that a young boy, 15, is climbing onto the roof and through a skylight and with binoculars reads the alarm code punched in as the cleaning crew leaves. Then, he breaks into the building from overhead and punches in the code before the alarm activates. After that he opens the doors so the real thieves can make off with the valuable computer equipment.
All this brings together the boy, Juliette Binoche as his mother Amira, and Will, not ready to be unfaithful to Liv but desperately looking for love.
This movie, much like the subject of this comment, questions what it is
to love, to suffer, to exist...
The depth contained in this work is incredible as it draws out the angst in the everyday struggle of life; the light and the dark, the happiness and the sorrow. It shows the true vulnerability of a man, but also of mankind. If the words would have been properly stated in the first moonwalk, "this is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" I would liken the phrase to this movie for truly, one small step for Will Francis (Jude Law) into sin and self deception showed how Man has leaped into sin and self deception.
Parallels are shown in the architecture and design, as well as the talk about the architecture and design, of buildings and cities. Light becomes an analogy as does the cold... Metaphors.. metaphors are spoken and referred to in order to shed light on the truth. You get glimpses of the past, sins of the past.. but you also get a view of the future, a brighter-cleaner future. At the end of the movie you will feel empty. You'll get a sense of questioning but then it dissipates because you realize you no longer require answers. You just have to accept and absorb.
The title becomes clear; everything is about breaking and entering. Whether it is for crime and punishment - love and hate - sins and forgiveness it is the only thing that is not in contrast, thus it brings everything together.
A remarkable dramatic work that accurately shows the struggles of living for all walks of life. Of course this movie was not perfect.. but like I said from the start and like this movie demonstrates - what is?
Definitely worth seeing, I just hope you can see it all and can relate to this post when you're done!
Will Francis is an architect who has just gone into new premises with
business partner Sandy as part of a proposed development in Kings
Cross. Will has challenges at home with an autistic teenager and a
distance between himself and partner Liv. After a series of break-ins
at their new offices, Will starts staying late to stake it out, hoping
to work out who is doing it and why. This puts extra strain on his home
life or perhaps it acts as an escape from his hone life. He spots the
thief (teenager Miro) and follows him back home not entirely sure
why. Soon he is engineering a meeting with the boy's immigrant mother,
starting a chain of events without a clear reason.
In an attempt to convince her that I am a thoughtful guy, I put this on my LoveFilm queue because she had watched part of this before the airplane she was watching it on had its entertainment system fall over. Otherwise it had not really appealed to me that much and the reviews had been mixed when it came out. Watching it made me feel like I was watching something meaningful and important but yet for some reason I couldn't connect with it emotionally. The material and the various characters made it interesting enough and it just about held my attention but I couldn't get with the characters. The motivations just seemed off and I couldn't see much in the way of reality backing up the script and coming out in the detail of the performances.
It is a shame because mostly the film is set up to be a classic character piece. Direction from Minghella is excellent, with great cinematography and a wonderfully reflective score throughout but it is his writing that lets it down. I'm open to the idea that I just didn't "get it" but I did struggle to find people and truth within the characters. It is not the fault of the cast because they do pretty well. Law works well and he does seem to be trying to find his centre but he couldn't help the fact that some aspects of his character don't ring true. Gavron holds his own very well considering those around him. Binoche is solid and works well and Penn is better than I expected. Freeman is so-so though while Winstone, Chikezie and a few others are good additions even if they don't have much to do.
A quite engaging but rather hollow film then even if it does have its moments of beauty. The class is there for all to see but somehow the script just doesn't have the depth that it thinks it does.
Rarely have I seen a film cover as many layers so flawlessly as this
film does. The title itself as a bounty of different meanings to it.
Taken literally, it refers to the several break-ins that occur
throughout the beginning of the film that spiral everything that is to
follow. However if you look deeper, you can find several different
metaphorical meanings to the title. It could be referring to the lives
that we see. They are already broken, and we enter these lives to see
how they play out and progress. It could also be referring to the
relationship between Will and Amira. He breaks in to her life and as a
result, she enters his and we see how his life changes as a result.
I also loved how Minghella studied the parallels between the two mother-child relationships in the film. Both deal with troubled children and mothers who are trying their best to create the best lives for their child. On one spectrum there is Amira and Miro. Due to an absent father and poor finances, Amira is forced to work as hard as she can to provide for Miro. However, he gets involved with criminals and becomes more and more entwined into these break-ins, as he is the only one who can actually be punished by law since he's the only one who physically breaks in. Amira has to work as much as she can and, as a result, she neglects Miro which leads to his actions. On the other side of the spectrum there is Liv and Bea. Bea suffers from a very extreme case of obsessive compulsive disorder and this takes a heavy toll on the lives of her and her parents. Unlike Amira though, Liv has a husband who works very hard and can provide constant economical support to the family. This allows her to quit her job and spend all of her time with Bea, doing her best to make sure she's alright. It's very interesting to see how these two similar relationships progress throughout the film with opposite approaches to trying to fix the problem.
Another interesting story that Minghella subtly unfolds is how immigrants are treated and how they live in a more established structure. In poverty-stricken areas people like Amira can be very well and have great jobs, such as a pianist. However when they have to pick up and move, it's extremely difficult to find any kind of job so she has to resort to being a tailor working out of her own home. This element is also displayed with Erika, who has to resort to being a cleaning lady and is automatically accused when the break-ins first start.
Minghella does a great job of layering so many magnificent and deep stories under one overlying story of how a break-in causes a man to re-evaluate his life. As always in his pictures, the score and cinematography are some of the best I've ever seen. Simply marvelous work. The performances are all brilliant. Jude Law is phenomenal in a very subtle display of a troubled man, dealing with numerous problems, just trying to be happy with his life. Binoche is deep and absorbed in her role as a mother who will do anything to protect her son. Penn perfectly portrays a mother who is trying to keep her relationship stable, while dealing with a very troubled daughter. Even the supporting actors nail their roles. Martin Freeman, as always, is absolutely hilarious and provides some much needed comedic support. Ray Winstone and Vera Farmiga are severely underused, but they nail their parts perfectly.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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Anthony Minghella, who won an Oscar for The English Patient (1996), wrote and directed this interesting film starring Jude Law as an architect who gets involved with a Bosnian ex-pat (Juliette Binoche) and her son. I found it mostly satisfying, but somehow unconvincing. The fact that Jude Law is a few years younger than either Robin Wright Penn, who played his wife Liv, or Binoche who played Amira was not the problem. What bothered me was the incompleteness of Will Francis's character. To make this work, Will had to be a philandering sort of guy who this time gets involved in something more than the usual sexcapade. We need to see Will fooling around before he gets involved with Amira, otherwise his insistence on quick sex with an exotic woman just doesn't make sense. Not only that but the lesson he presumably learns from the experience is not as compelling.
And as much as I admire Juliette Binoche I really thought her character could have been spiced up a bit. She needs to look more exotic and to have a kind of saucy streak above the straight-laced mother and seamstress role she is forced to play. We needed to see her as sexually frustrated, yes, but also as someone who is awakened by being made love to by Jude Law! For some reason Minghella underplayed this possibility. I think she should have just gone bananas over Will, and that would have created the kind of emotional conflict that allowed her to feel guilt about arranging to have the photos taken of her and Will in bed together. Although this was blackmail for her son, it was--or should have been--a betrayal of love. Instead of exuding such a goody-goody persona, Amira should have projected a more compromised person, someone who would cynically sleep with a guy and conspire to photograph him in a compromised position instead of first asking him if he would help her son.
There were some schlocky details that Minghella did not pay enough attention to that detract from the effectiveness of the film. First, it is not clear why Will should be able to sleep so soundly in the afternoon in adulterous bed of Amira's friend that her friend can enter and take a dozen or so shots of him with Amira moving around on the bed in different poses. I kept expecting to see something showing us he was drugged! The fact that the police detective befriended the boy was okay. Cops sometimes do that sort of thing. They like to play big brother (in a positive way), but I could not believe that Will would refuse to help Amira's son when she is literally on her knees begging him! Minghella played it in this artificial way so as to set up the climactic scene when Will and Liv arrive together at the hearing. In real life Will could not say no when Amira is begging him because (1) he does want to help the boy, (2) she still has the power to embarrass Will and his wife even though she has given him the incriminating photo negatives, (3) it is totally out of character for him to suddenly care so much about the affair coming out, and (4) he immediately confesses it to his wife anyway.
In the scene when Will returns to his wife after the stakeout smelling of the prostitute's perfume, we have Liv smelling it, and then when he opts for a shower, she pulls him close for immediate sex. I think he should have explained it. After all, he was not involved with the prostitute. He rejected her and that would be believable. In fact in his place I couldn't resist talking about this strange prostitute (played very enticingly by Vera Farmiga in a bit part). It would be interesting. Apparently Minghella was making some point by having Liv want to have sex with him immediately; however that was never developed. We are left imagining that the perfume or the thought of her husband with a prostitute somehow aroused her, which seems unlikely, but if that was the case, it needed to be developed.
Why the robbers would come back to the scene of the crime a third time to commit yet the same crime in the same manner is beyond, I would think, the reach of most of the world's dumbest criminals, and these guys weren't that dumb.
And there were some dangling strings: why DID the prostitute steal his car and then return it? Why was the boy so lost and then suddenly so repentant and seemingly on the right track? This was underdeveloped.
The scene with the autistic daughter Bea at Will's workplace was played so heavy-handedly that we knew what was going to happen before it happened--and what was the point? By the way, her relationship with Will was also not fully developed. (Perhaps Minghella's script was too demanding for the director!) I am sorry to be so critical but this could have been an outstanding movie, and I get irritated when directors go to print so quickly. Minghella is never going to be a great director until he takes a page from Stanley Kubrick's book and polishes every scene and irons out the wrinkles. As it is, Breaking and Entering is a pretty good film, and certainly no Jude Law fan should miss it.
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