From Anthony Minghella, the director of such films as The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain, comes what is probably his least interesting film, Breaking and Entering. Starring Jude Law, Juliette Binoche and Robin Wright Penn, this so-called erotic drama has potential but never manages to lift itself off the ground.
Breaking and Entering begins with the repeated robbery of a successful architecture firm in a seedy part of London. One of the partners, Will Francis (Law), decides to stake out his place and manages to catch the burglar, a 15-year old boy, in the act. He follows him home, but, instead of turning him into the police, befriends his attractive mother. In the midst of a relationship breakdown with his own wife (Penn), Law engages in the most forbidden affairs, but who is using who?
Minghella, known for his sweeping landscapes and beautiful scenery, keeps things much more low key than normal, though Breaking and Entering is much less of an epic than his normal fare. This career move was a mistake. Breaking and Entering lacks the power, appeal and intrigue of his more successful dramas, despite a potentially good story and interesting characters. Though his other films in many ways are character dramas, they are character dramas encompassed in something bigger - a moving Nazi storyline, a neurotic serial killer chronicle and the American Civil War come to mind - and Minghella just doesn't know what to do when he doesn't have that kind of backdrop.
The character of Will Francis is an interesting one, as he is a man who loves his daughter but seems not to have a complete interest in her, and who at the same time loves his wife (or is she his girlfriend?) yet gets caught up with another woman. He is so relentless in catching a thief, but then doesn't turn the boy in when he finds him. He is a man who has little reason to what he does, yet at the same time what he does makes sense. Still, an interesting character doesn't make an interesting movie, and Breaking and Entering just doesn't have enough going on to make it worth it. It is not a poorly made movie, and it is not a disaster by any means, but once everything is said and done, there's nothing remarkable about the movie. There is one scene that implies the film is going to take a darker turn, and then it backs off and goes the least interesting path possible. To tease and then disappoint is a sin of major magnitude.
Breaking and Entering features good acting and quality direction, but the movie lacks the captivating effect Minghella's other films leave upon the audience. Fans of the director should check it out to see what he does with a character drama that doesn't involve war or killers, but otherwise this is one that you can skip.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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