Breaking and Entering
Anthony Minghella’s final theatrical film is a messily contrived affair, which undermines its attempts to tackle a number of weighty themes. The attractive cast, emoting their way through inner city trials and tribulations, live in a movie landscape that further distances the writer/director from creating something of resonance.
At the centre of the film is Jude Law’s Will, an environmentally-friendly architect whose King’s Cross offices are broken into repeatedly by an agile young parkour enthusiast and Bosnian refugee, Miro (Rafi Gavron). Will is having problems at home; his relationship with his girlfriend Liv (Robin Wright) is fractious and his (non-biological) daughter Bea’s behaviour is causing concern and distress (she is possibly autistic). Distanced from his family Will tracks Miro to his home and begins a tentative affair with his mother Amira (Juliette Binoche).
Minghella throws so much into the mix that the results lack focus. Will overtly references the title and parallels the illegal activities of Miro with his own yen for danger and discovery of an appetite for infidelity. But it’s a clumsy comparison that doesn’t play naturally. The contrasts between the haves (Will and his family and colleague, played by Martin Freeman) and the have-nots (Amira and her son, the office cleaners, Vera Farmiga’s Eastern European hooker) don’t really fly because neither group is especially believable. Binoche playing a Bosnian Muslim is just distracting star casting (even though her performance is as compelling as ever).
Ray Winstone plays a copper trying to set Miro right. But he appears so irregularly that I’d forgotten he was in it by the second time he shows up. Freeman is good value, going for slightly obnoxious mode, while Wright is impressively remote and icy. Law steers somewhere between the over-confidence of his early work and the more assured tone of recent roles; the brattish blonde highlights don’t help much. His role, like most of those here, is rather distancing and resistant to viewer empathy. He doesn’t really spark off his leading actresses either, aside from Farmiga (who is fun, but really weird casting).
This is all just about engaging enough until the climax; even within the curiously artificial world the film has constructed, this proves to be both ridiculously neat and entirely unconvincing. Minghella’s previous self-originated script was the melancholy Truly, Madly, Deeply. There, the fantasy premise insulated him from suspicions of emotional simplicity. Unfortunately, the shortcomings of Breaking and Entering glare in the harsh light of day as the director unwisely gives vent to his social conscience.