Breaking And Entering - Review
Review by Jack Foley
ANTHONY Minghella’s first original screenplay since 1991’s Truly Madly Deeply is an ambitious but ultimately flawed look at life, love and forgiveness in contemporary London.
The film boasts a top-drawer cast and succeeds in raising some thought-provoking issues but – crucially – seems divorced from reality.
It’s also far too hopeful and expects a lot from its audience in terms of what they are prepared to tolerate.
Will (Jude Law) is a successful architect who has recently relocated his firm to King’s Cross. When the business starts to fall prone to repeated break-ins, Will begins to keep watch in the hope of catching the thieves in the act.
His home life, meanwhile, is falling apart because of the strain being placed on his long-term relationship with his Swedish girlfriend (Robin Wright Penn) by their difficult autistic daughter.
So, when Will tracks one of the young Bosnian thieves (Rafi Gavron) back home to his hard-working immigrant mother, Amira (Juliette Binoche), their subsequent encounter has a profound effect on his life.
Will starts to fall for Amira and soon has to account for his actions, both personally and professionally.
Minghella’s film is designed to reflect the multi-cultural diversity of London at the same time as addressing many of the issues surrounding its residents.
Tolerance, for one, plays a big part, as does understanding and forgiveness. But the questions the writer/director poses don’t always give rise to satisfactory answers in spite of the best efforts of the cast.
The movie suggests that there is very little difference between a thief who steals property, or one who steals hearts – and that both are equally worthy of our sympathy and understanding.
But while certainly a worthy sentiment, the scenarios Minghella establishes fail to ring true.
His thieves are capable of some unlikely acts, such as returning property once it has been taken, and attempt to elude capture without resorting to violence. Everyone has a heart just waiting to be broken.
But while this provides his actors with the platform to explore some emotional depth, the results fail to generate the sympathy and empathy the director may have been anticipating.
Only Binoche and Martin Freeman, as Law’s business partner, succeed in delivering characters who feel real – the former, especially, providing several heartbreaking moments as a mother forced to resort to desperate lengths to protect a son she knows is capable of better things.
Freeman, meanwhile, seems to represent the sceptic in every viewer.
But the likes of Law and Penn, while certainly convincing, are far too selfish and consistently make decisions that strain credibility.
Far from debating the worthwhile issues that the film could have made, audiences are more likely to find themselves lamenting the opportunities it has missed.
It may have been made with the best of intentions but the result feels decidedly pretentious and curiously out of touch with the complexity and reality of life in such a diverse capital.
Running time: 2hrs