In the last decade, Anthony Minghella emerged as the go-to guy
for tackling screen adaptations of "difficult" or "unfilmable" novels. His
motion pictures, which include
THE ENGLISH PATIENT,
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, and COLD MOUNTAIN, have divided
audiences and critics, yet have earned accolades including Academy
Award nominations for cast members. One almost forgets that
Minghella's first movie, the quirky
TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY was made
from his own screenplay. In a return to his roots, so to speak,Minghella
decided to forego a literary adaptation and penned an original script.

      BREAKING & ENTERING, like his other films, will undoubtedly
be either warmly embraced or quickly dismissed. It attempts to address
some prevalent and important contemporary issues about race,
immigration, poverty, and the patronization of the privileged, but the
film's convoluted plots and requisite happy ending undercut the author's
intentions.

      The plot centers on Will (Jude Law) is a successful and fairly
well-off landscape architect who has recently opened a new office
in King's Cross, a dodgy area of London. He and his partner (Martin
Freeman) have high minded plans to redevelop the area and part
of their initial approach is to set up shop in the neighborhood.
When their offices are robbed -- not once, but twice -- they begin
to stake out the place on their own.

      This takes a toll on Will's already chilly relationship with
his Swedish-born common law wife Liv (Robin Wright Penn) and
her troubled daughter Beatrice (Poppy Rogers). Despite their
years together, Liv has never really seen Will in the role of
Beatrice's father. She's also coping with her own depression and
seeking help. (The therapist is played by Juliet Stevenson.)

      Will eventually identifies the thief as Miro (Ravi Gavron),
the son of a Bosnian woman (Juliette Binoche) who supports
them by working as a seamstress. He ingratiates his way into
her life, first by bringing some clothes for alteration and then
by romancing her.

      Complicating matters is the fact that Amira (Binoche) is
aware of her son's activities -- he is part of a gang that includes
his uncle and his cousin -- and that she knows that Will knows
Miro was involved in the break-ins.

      Confused? Some members of the audience with whom I saw
the film were. Although, others pointed out that the film -- like
life itself -- is messy. Minghella, though, insists on tying up the
loose ends a bit too tightly in a Hollywood fashion.

      
BREAKING & ENTERING contains a few terrific performances,
most notably from its females. Both Juliette Binoche and Robin Wright
Penn deliver strong performances. Law is more problematic; he's
playing an arrogant sod and he seems at sea as to how to capture
all the grand emotions that are in the script. Martin Freeman lends
nice comic support, but Vera Farmiga, normally a fine actress, is
badly miscast as a Russian prostitute. Ray Winstone makes the most
of his small role as the policeman investigating the crimes.

      Minghella should be complimented on at least attempting
something cerebral, but the experiment falls short. The schematic
screenplay complete with bald symbols (like the fox that has invaded
the garden at Law's home) and the various aspects of both "breaking"
and "entering" that are employed devalue the final result.


                        
Rating:                C
                        
MPAA Rating:       R for sexuality and language
                        
Running time:      119 mins.


                        Viewed at the Dolby Screening Room
Breaking &Entering
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.