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Breaking and Entering More at IMDbPro »

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Move Thee Reviews: Breaking and Entering cannot break and enter my heart

Author: Kenji Chan from Hong Kong
28 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Stealing someone's computer is a crime, but is it worse to steal someone's heart? Are you interested in this philosophical question? I am not personally. To me, Breaking and Entering is just another typical melodrama with a contrived plot, talking about a man betraying his lover and having a fling with another woman.

Will (Jude Law) and his friend Sandy (Martin Freeman) run an architecture firm and move into a new office in the improving but still dangerous Kings Cross area of London, where they intend to transform a run-down neighborhood into a modernistic multiple-use park. Will totally immerses himself in his urban renewal projects. This worsens his relationship with his beautiful girlfriend Liv (Robin Wright Penn), who spends most of her time worrying about her autistic 13-year-old daughter Bea (Poppy Roger), who rarely sleeps and eats. Bea's only outlet for her energy is gymnastics.

Their new studio office has been burgled twice within days by a local gang of thieves and Will chases one of the young gang members, Miro (Rafi Gavron), back to the apartment he shares with his mother, a Bosnian refugee named Amira (Juliette Binoche). Will befriends Amira to further investigate the burglary, but their friendship gradually turns into an affair. Amira soon discovers that Miro robbed Will's office and becomes suspicious of his true intentions in their relationship. Amira, thus, blackmails Will in order to protect her son… The director intends to make the movie conspicuous for its depiction of how different social classes and cultures collide. However, the contrived plot, the characters' strange behaviour and implausible lines hinder me from connecting with any one of the characters. First, it is unlikely for Will, a handsome English architect, to have a romantic affair with a Bosnian refugee whose son breaks into his office. The motive for his interest in her is unknown. Second, we don't understand why Will's daughter obsessively practicing gymnastics does not want to sleep and eat. Third, the Hollywoodized and unreasonable ending does not go with this independent film. {SPOILER} Why does Will suddenly become aware that Liv is the woman he loves most? Why are the policeman and lawyer easily deceived? Why does Liv easily forgive Will, after kicking the car and shouting neurotically, for having an affair? This is hardly believable.

If you watch Breaking and Entering owing to Anthony Minghella's success with The English Patient and The Talented Mr. Ripley, you will be disappointed. If you watch it because of Jude Law and Juliette Binoche, a French actress who is able to fully master her character's Eastern European accent, you may feel satisfied. Despite the powerful cast, Breaking and Entering cannot break and enter my heart.

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Doesn't work despite the (to big) effort

Author: emerson-9 from Sweden
21 November 2009

Good actors, good people and production and an idea for a film that could have resulted in something great, which for me, it didn't.

Being Swedish it's even more "fun" since the references is there in many ways besides the obvious ones. Cold, suicidal and strange swedes, yeah, a lot of the stuff that's being produced in terms of movies and TV-shows really go for that. Some can be very convincing in it's minimalistic way and overall gray feel. This movie felt very "over-done" and over-acted. Not very convincing at all. Again, being Swedish, I sometimes get very frustrated with the more theater feeling that often overshadows a typical Swedish film or TV-show. And this movie feels like it's on purpose tries to achieve just that. That theater acting instead of trying to be a convincing story with real people. Instead we end up with scenes and dialog that again and again seems constructed.

For me, sorry to say, there's more life in either Housebunny or Rambo.

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Remarkable cast with a touching story

Author: beewhy from Toronto
12 December 2007

Superb performances by entire ensemble make this a very engaging story with many of the smaller roles taking on an appealing depth of their own. For example, the "autistic" daughter and the street-wise cop develop in wonderfully unexpected ways; best of all is Vera Farmiga's crazy hooker who has presence even when she isn't on screen. Law, Binoche and Penn are terrific and wonderfully human in their strengths and failings. Remarkable juxtapositions of humor and intensity of emotions. The film could easily be longer to give more time for character development. Some aspects are merely suggested or hinted at in passing, but that's part of the charm as well. Surprising and a shame it didn't do better at the box office.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Very good film, but it doesn't end very well

Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
13 April 2008

Minghella's final theatrical film, and one of only two original screenplays that he himself wrote (the other being his debut, Truly, Madly, Deeply, which is presently unavailable on DVD). I've seen several variations on the theme in Breaking and Entering in recent years, where affluent white people come into contact with downtrodden immigrants. I have heard them referred to as "globalization movies", and I kind of like that term. Another one that comes immediately to mind is Michael Haneke's Code Unknown. Breaking and Entering is not at that level, but it's a very good film. Jude Law plays an architect who is growing apart from his girlfriend of 10 years (Robin Wright Penn) and her autistic daughter (Poppy Rogers, a fantastic juvenile actress). When his office is burgled, Law follows the teenage perpetrator (Rafi Gavron) to his mother's apartment. Played by Juliette Binoche, the mother is a Bosnian refugee working as a tailor in London. Law becomes intrigued, and eventually they start an affair. From here, everything starts to get real messy. As it would in real life, of course. Which is why the film ends so disappointingly: Minghella wraps everything up too cleanly. He also has Law act unbelievably. There's an inquest near the end, and what he admits during the hearing not only didn't have to be admitted, but it seems, to me at least, that admitting it would have the opposite effect that he intends. So, yeah, it ends weakly, to say the least. But I can't knock it too much. Law and Binoche are extraordinary. Binoche could probably do something like this in her sleep. I remember when Law was an exciting new actor, but there was that year that I think we all got sick of him when he appeared in like 20 movies. A performance like this helps remind me of why we touted his talents in the first place. I also really liked Vera Farmiga in a small role of a Russian hooker. She's a good character actor. She should probably be cast in these kind of roles in the future instead of lead roles.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful, complex story

Author: mberger47 from United States
31 December 2007

Mingella is a fantastic director. Every shot, every scene in this film is beautifully crafted. The keys in every department shine: the editing, the score, the cinematography, the art direction all work together to tell the story. And the story is pretty damn powerful. A story about people looking for love, looking for hope, looking for the future - all the while not knowing that it is right in front of them. Often a tragedy, sometimes a romance, this movie is riveting. It helps that Jude Law and Juliette Binoche, two of the great current actors use all of their talents to fully paint out these complex characters.

Bravo, bravo, bravo!

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Very nice movie!

Author: siderite from Romania
2 May 2007

I got this film for the wife. Jude Law and all. But it turned out to be a very nice movie. It's best attribute is that almost all the characters involved are good people. They meet in various circumstances and their interaction is what makes the story.

But it's so much better than, let's say, Crash, since it doesn't try to shock, it just shows a beautiful story.

First of all, it's not a romantic movie. It has romance, but it is a real, personal type of a romance, not the boy-meets-girl crap. It's not an action movie, although one of the characters is a free runner. It's not a drama, since the suffering and happy moments are in balance.

OK, I am not good describing this movie. I liked it. And I usually don't like movies like this. It's nice and worth watching.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Eyes Wide Shut

Author: New Culture Forum from United Kingdom
10 April 2007

Comments on Minghella's Breaking and Entering The reason Hollywood will always ultimately triumph over European film is simple: it understands our need to aspire, to dream and to see human life reflected on a larger, more fantastical scale than humdrum reality. Europe on the other hand puts its trust in what it sees as real life. That can be great of course, even if, more often than not, what European movies are actually portraying is a contemporary brand of nihilism which passes for depth.

But European and British films are certainly not averse to the odd fantasy. It's just that we tend to dress them up in the guise of gritty, searing dramas with something to say about the state-of-the-nation. One such is Breaking and Entering, director Anthony Minghella's just-released tale about an affluent North London architect (Jude Law) whose security and Sunday supplement life with his cool Swedish wife (Robin Wright Penn) are threatened when he begins an affair with a Bosnian refugee (Juliet Binoche), who's eking out a living as a seamstress with her delinquent son in sleazy Kings Cross.

The multicultural setting is reminiscent of last year's Oscar-winner Crash. It all looks very good, in the way that Crash looked good. It's beautifully shot (but then so are most films these days), and the characters are aesthetically pleasing, even if Law's vanity, which seems to be increasingly hindering his performances lately, proves to be a real encumbrance here. It's sort of pleasurable to watch these people glide from scene to scene. But behind the posturing and interior-designed settings, there is actually nothing there at all.

The rest of the review is there -

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Relationship Drama

Author: hosolo from United States
19 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Will (Jude Law) is an architect, married to a Swede, Liv (Robin Wright-Penn), who has a daughter,Bea from a previous marriage. Bea has some sort of mental disorder, and Liv seems depressed about it. Will is a loving family man but feels that there is still something missing from his home life. At work, he tries to construct a new building, at an undesirable area of London, called King's Cross. His building is burglarized by some young acrobatic teenagers so Will ends up staking out his construction site hoping to catch the perpetrators. While he does this from inside his car, a prostitute approaches him and Will becomes a client of hers.

Like any other couples, Will and Liv have their fights and make up, so Will agreeing to a hooker, and yet trying to spice up his marriage, did not connect with this viewer. Even more surprising is he begins an affair with the mother of the teenage burglar. Amira (played by Juliette Binoche, doing a very good Bosnian accent), is a Muslim immigrant and seamstress who meets Will by chance at his step-daughter's gym practice. Will asks Amira for some tailoring to be done for him then begins an affair with her. When Amira's son Mero (Rafi Gavron) finds out Will has been to his place, he confesses to Amira what he has done. Amira and a friend then take pictures of her in bed with Will in hopes she can discredit Will from harming her son. Amira's loving protection of her son is the most plausible element of this movie.

This is really a story about Will trying to find a broken link in his marriage to Liv and her daughter. Will and Liv, like their daughter, is upset then calm, then upset, then calm. Their relationships lacked any consistency so that Will having affairs is incomprehensible. Maybe Will's character could have been more fully developed, as well as Wright-Penn's Liv, so we can get a clue as to why Will does what he does. While, watching Will start these affairs, I was reminded by what some girlfriends have told me, "men are scum". Yet Will is really a decent guy. I enjoyed the pacing of this movie, and the cat and mouse game at King's Cross (really that's what makes most of this movie interesting) and I liked watching the young acrobats jump from building to building (better than Spider-Man, they're human). But what it lacks is thorough credibility. It's an engaging movie that could have used a little more livening up.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Rich and Poor at cross purposes in Kings Cross

Author: Philby-3 from Sydney, Australia
18 February 2007

London is a very compartmentalised place and people get on by ignoring each other. However inner London in particular is also very crowded and gentrification has meant that the poor now rub shoulders with the rich. Will (Jude Law) and his partner (Martin Freeman – Tim from "The Office") are architects who has done very well out of redevelopment which Will sees as a campaign against green spaces – their current plans for the King's Cross area envisage lots of canals. They have even moved their own office to the area, but someone keeps on breaking in and stealing the computers (always Apple – a bit of product placement there).

Will, who wants to get out of his elegant Primrose Hill house anyway, stakes the place out and discovers that the burglar is a very athletic teenager. He follows the kid home to a housing estate in nearby St John's Wood and strikes up an acquaintance with the kid's seamstress mother. Mother Amira (Juliet Binochet) and son Miro(Rafi Gavron) are Bosnian refugees. Will is not terribly happy at home due to his strained relationship with his partner Liv (Robin Wright Penn) and her demanding daughter who is showing symptoms of autism. So he goes to bed with Amira, who sensibly arranges them to be photographed, though she doesn't know Will is on her son's case.

Without giving the game away, things are resolved, though it must be said not in a totally satisfying manner. There is also a rather pointless sub-plot involving a prostitute (nicely played by Vera Farmiga) who has coffee with Will and introduces him to Central European rock in the front seat of his Landrover while he is watching for burglars.

Clearly the film is about Will and Liv and their emotional life, and there is a wider theme about the rich mixing with the poor, but I'd have to say at the end I'm not much the wiser. However, I thought Jude Law turned in a terrific performance as Will, who's not sure if he knows what the truth is anymore. I saw Jude in "The Holiday" recently where he was basically sleepwalking (which was all his role demanded). Here he is really trying. Juliette Binoche, is also excellent as Amira, who makes it clear that, emotionally deprived as she is, motherhood is her first priority. Actually, Liv is the same, but poor Will doesn't notice.

Rafi Gavron makes a very impressive debut as Miro, who just may stay on the rails, and I liked Ray Winstone as an exemplary policeman dedicated to keeping kids out of trouble or at least out of jail. Oh, and Ellen Thomas, Liz the mendacious school secretary in "Teachers", pops up as a children's court judge chairing a bizarre community justice conferencing session.

Overall, an interesting film, but I'm still wondering what it was really about. It bombed at the box office here despite the presence of Jude Law, so perhaps I'm not the only one.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Quite good. He should stick to modern day London

Author: Quentintarantado from philippines
4 April 2007

I think the plot ties up too neatly, I think the characters get away too lightly but I like the movie because their decisions seem foolish yet real. That's quite a balancing act. I find myself in their place, "Yep, I did that." And feeling pretty foolish since it's up there on screen. Oh it's funny. It's fictional. There's a sort of happy ending, but there's a weird flavor that isn't Hollywood (thank God), isn't neat, seems quite authentic, and exciting. I also want to praise the two women here (Vera Farmiga is yummy, without a doubt), Robin Wright and Juliette Binoche for daring to look so un-glamorous. They are undoubtedly very beautiful but they certainly look their age. I never saw women who look so human rather than the mannequin perfection of most films. They are truly, truly sexier for it.

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