2006 Breaking and Entering Is a Metaphor


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Breaking and Entering
A story about theft, both criminal and emotional, "Breaking & Entering" follows a disparate group of long-term Londoners and new arrivals whose lives intersect in the inner-city area of King's Cross. When a landscape architect's (Jude Law) state-of-the-art offices in a seedy part of town are repeatedly burgled, his investigations launch him out of the safety of his familiar world. "Breaking & Entering" is Academy Award winning director Anthony Minghella's first original screenplay since his 1991 feature debut "Truly Madly Deeply". Minghella, Sidney Pollack and Timothy Bricknell are producing for Minghella and Pollack's Mirage Enterprises.


Release date:December 15, 2006
(LA - one week only; NY release: January 26, 2007; limited release: February 9)
Studio:The Weinstein Company
Director:Anthony Minghella
MPAA Rating:R (for sexuality and language)
Screenwriter:Anthony Minghella
Starring:Jude Law, Juliette Binoche, Robin Wright-Penn, Ray Winstone, Martin Freeman, Vera Farmiga






Breaking and Entering (2006)
CYNTHIA FUCHS  28 Jan 2007  / www.popmatters.com
Oana (Vera Farmiga) show up a half-hour into Breaking and Entering. A Russian prostitute prowling alleys in the King’s Cross section of North London, she finds her way to a car occupied by two architects, Will (Jude Law) and Sandy (Martin Freeman). She can't know that they're on a self-designated "stakeout" of their firm, which has suffered a couple of break-ins. And she can't know that neither is much interested in her delights, including fuzzy blond hair and a fur collar about the same color.

"Fifty pounds, whatever you want," she offers, sliding inside the car despite the men's protestations. She assumes mobility, but it's limited to this space, inside the car (she demonstrates her ability to dance provocatively in the car, while other scenes show characters riding along in their vehicles, motionless in their seats and gazing away from one another). As soon as Will opens his mouth, she lays down her condition: "Except talk." Her cigarette held high, her bracelets jangling, Oana notes that animals don't talk, "because they don't lie." And so the film announces -- once again and heavy-handedly -- its thematic focus: people deceive one another, feel bad about it, then lie some more to cover up over the first story.

Oana's role is brief and somewhat significant. She's one of several simultaneously seductive and intimidating women who unnerve Will, the others being his longtime girlfriend and Swedish documentarian Liv (Robin Wright Penn), with an autistic 13-year-old daughter Bea (Poppy Rogers), and his lover, Bosnian refugee Amira (Juliette Binoche), with an angry teenaged son, Miro (Rafi Gavron), half Muslim and half Serb. (Sandy has his own fascination with a woman he both adores and fears, the cleaning woman who works in their office, Erica [Caroline Chikezie], but it's a side project for the film, which is too bad because it looks to be a lot more interesting than Will's predictable fretting.)

Anthony Minghella's latest film is not so sumptuous as The English Patient or Cold Mountain, but it's even more annoying. Once again, the white folks learn deep and valuable lessons from ethnic and raced "others," eve as they worry repeatedly about their "place" in the larger scheme of the world, a scheme they can't hope to fathom, mainly because they're white. As Will looks out his nice townhouse window, he spots a fox nosing about, suggesting, perhaps, that a wildness yet exists within his enclave. He does venture forth each day to his office -- located, as Oana observes, in a "bad place" -- but for the most part, Will's world is a function of his... er, will. Focused, practical-minded, and increasingly frustrated, he remakes the environment for clients, in virtual models and clever theoretical formulations, while trying to do the same in his own life (at the same time, cinematographer Benoît Delhomme makes sense of all environments with nimble, inquisitive framing).

If Will is an artist paid for rethinking space, he meets a sort of match in Miro. The boy first appears as he is engaged in the film's titular act, specifically, as he's stealing from Will and Sandy's office, scaling walls and ascending rooftops, then making his escape by some trendy parkour moves. That is, the young man's traversing of space is more physical and even more literal than Will's, but their passions are similarly energetic and differently misdirected. Miro works through his anger -- his dad is unexplained/missing, his mom reticent, his options limited -- by taking up with a local burglary crew. Yes, he's exploited for his particular skills, but he's good at it, and thinks he's getting over in his illegal acts.

At first, Miro (like everyone else, his name is overcharged) is pursued by the determined Bruno Fella (Ray Winstone); soon Will joins in the chase (which explains his stakeout of the office when he meets Oana). When Will discovers the boy's home and "infiltrates" by bringing his jacket to the seamstress Amira. Their subsequent affair is full of tensions: he's getting back at Liv (by whom he feels neglected, as in, "I feel as if I’m tapping on a window, you're somewhere behind the glass, but you can't hear me even when you're angry, like now") and mostly unable either to soothe or figure out Bea (a gymnast, she works on her own moves into the early mornings, repeating and repeating, seeking order apart from her mom and stepfather's arguments).

While Breaking and Entering leans heavily on its metaphors (see especially, the titular allusions), it doesn't make any of its roiling notions compelling. It's as if noting them is enough: the contests here are divided neatly by class, nation, and gender, as well as generation. Mostly, these frictions are revealed through Will's perspective, with occasional commentary by those intimidating women. When, for example, Will clumsily offers Oana a bottle of Liv's brand of perfume (in an effort to cover up their nightly assignations in his car -- drinking coffee and watching the building, as he doesn’t have sex with her, only with Amira -- she must instruct him. Her own strong perfume, she observes, is "my job." "Do you think I like to smell like this" Do you think I like to wear panties which cut my pussy in half? Men are incredible!" And she sprays him with his own perfume.

Alas, Oana's lesson is lost on Will, who believes he can manage his deceits, of himself as much as "his" women. She wonders at his efforts to control nature, to rid himself of the fox in his garden. "Turn the whole world into a park," she advises. "Go ahead, clean up. Because we will move to another alley and we will take the foxes with us." And, she doesn't add, the clean up will persist in her wake. For those who believe they can possess and so order their worlds tend to marshal economic and political wills, maintaining a sense of security by the rearrangement of space and exchange of "property."

That this sense is another deception hardly matters, for it convinces those who sell themselves in various forms. As "free-spirited" and "wild" as Oana appears, she's as much a part of the system she breaks down as is Will. Though he lacks her insight, he does, however unfairly, have fuller mobility. And in this movie's configurations of space, mobility denotes prerogative.


Breaking And Entering
04 Nov 2006     Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray | www.eyeforfilm.co.uk

Anthony Minghella was a playwright before he won an Oscar for The English Patient and went on to make big Hollywood movies (The Talented Mr Ripley, Cold Mountain). With his new film, he is back where he started. Despite international stars Jude Law and Juliette Binoche (both exceptional), Breaking And Entering feels genuinely homegrown, with an intelligent script, beautifully handled by actors and director.

For once - the joy of it warms every literary heart - the spoken word, the written word, leads the story through a maze of mistaken emotions and damaged desire. Minghella understands the nature of the new man and, to an extent, the new woman, who is the old woman in better clothes.

Will (Law) is what used to be called "a trendy architect," in the sense that he works in a deprived area of London, has a fabulous office in a converted warehouse and believes that the ethics of good planning can make a difference to the lives of "ordinary people." His marriage to Liv (Robin Wright Penn), a Swedish beauty, partly educated in the States, has reached a plateau where conversation is masked by a protective barrier of safe sentences. Her 13-year-old autistic daughter (Poppy Rogers), with an obsessive interest in gymnastics and batteries, unintentionally comes between them. Being civilised, Will and Liv refrain from public outbursts and let the silence articulate their distance.

Will's office is robbed by a gang of agile young Bosnian immigrants, including Miro (Rafi Gavron), who lives with his mother Amira (Binoche) in a King's Cross estate. She has established a one-woman tailoring repair business, knows nothing of Miro's criminal activities and is fiercely protective of him. She talks of returning to Sarajevo.

After the burglary, Miro is given Will's laptop by the gang boss, thus establishing a connecting thread between the robber and the robbed. Minghella cleverly brings Will and Amira together and their liaison, if that is the right word, which it isn't, because the needs of one are not the same as the needs of the other, is manipulated with infinite subtlety. "I am giving myself to you," she says. "I want it to be worth something." The value of love alters like stocks and shares and Will doesn't play the market with any degree of understanding. He dabbles, while assuming a position of control, which he considers the male prerogative.

Each of these characters have lives outside the script and each are given difficult decisions to make. Nothing feels false, with the exception of Ray Winstone's laid-back CID detective, who might have dropped in for a natter and a pint. Emotions are confused and real. As in life, the conclusions are satisfactory and unsatisfactory at the same time, implying that breaking and entering is a metaphor, as well as a reality, and love is a mystery best left unsolved.



Breaking and Entering

March 18, 2008
Jonathan Rosenbaum  Chicago Reader www.chicagoreader.com/  Top Critic

The complicated interactions involving class and culture that ensue between all these characters remain fascinating even when they seem overly schematic.

Juliette Binoche won an Oscar for her role in Anthony Minghella's adaptation of The English Patient(1996), but in many ways I prefer her soulful performance here: portraying a Bosnian Muslim working as a tailor in London, she's reason enough to see Minghella's contrived though absorbing 2006 feature based on his original script. Jude Law (earnest but a bit overtaxed) plays a dissatisfied landscape architect living with a Swedish woman (Robin Wright Penn) and her troubled teenage daughter; his office in the King's Cross area is twice burglarized by Binoche's teenage son, and the complicated interactions involving class and culture that ensue between all these characters remain fascinating even when they seem overly schematic. (It's too bad Minghella's usual editor, Walter Murch, wasn't around this time; some of the overly obvious crosscutting suggests the meddling of producer Harvey Weinstein.) R, 120 min.


May 4, 2007
Ed Gonzalez     Slant Magazine
The pitch meeting must have been frightening: "Caché for fans of Chocolat."


Breaking and Entering
May 27, 2007
Ryan Cracknell  /  Movie Views
Everything in Anthony Minghella’s Breaking and Entering is torn and in need of mending. Whether it’s Will’s (Jude Law) jacket or his long-term relationship with Liv (Robin Wright Penn) or Amira’s (Juliette Binoche) attempts to rebuild her life in a foreign country. Then there’s Will’s office that’s suffering from chronic break-ins, Liv’s daughter’s autism, Amira’s son’s brushes with the law and the broken down London neighborhood of King’s Cross where it’s all set. And like the flaw’s set within the confines of the film, Breaking and Entering is in need of a little tinkering itself.

The story focuses on Will, an ambitious developer who hopes to revitalize King’s Cross. With his job at the center of his attention, his relationship with Liv is falling apart. Liv’s daughter, whom she had with someone else, is a major part of the rift. After a series of robberies hit Will’s business, his life intersects with Amira, a Bosnian refugee seamstress who moved to London seeking a fresh beginning after the death of her husband. Will and Amira make a predictable, but always juicy, plot device and all heck breaks loose.

Breaking and Entering looks as though it is an extremely disciplined piece of work. It could have easily been set to a mundane backdrop anywhere in the Western world, however the claustrophobic confines of London’s industrial parks help capture the trapped nature of each of the characters. The dialogue is filled with nuance and is often loaded.

But there’s something about the film that just doesn’t feel quite right. It’s cold. The piece that doesn’t gel is found in the characters. The interaction between each of them is often forced. Some inter-connectivity is bound to happen, but the depths at which Minghella goes to connect them all goes over board. By the end it is spinning out of control like a blindfolded eight-year-old playing Pin the Tale on the Donkey after he’s been spun an extra 20 times by his older brother. It’s dizzying and ultimately cold.

I believe the emotion of Breaking and Entering was intended to spin out from its lack of emotion. However, it never truly comes together. It’s hard to empathize for anyone in the film. I don’t care if I wouldn’t invite them over for a beer or a cup of tea, but I wouldn’t even want to ask anyone in this film for the time, a pen or a match.

Although Breaking and Entering was able to hold my attention for its duration, it’s a film that follows its own theme. Minghella surrounds himself with adults who can get by in the world but are still in many ways broken. The film itself is solid in a lot of ways, albeit with an icy limp.

Breaking and Entering DVD Review
Breaking and Entering is shown in its original widescreen format and is enhanced for widescreen TVs. The picture is sharp with no visible flaws. Audio is offered in English Dolby 5.1 and French Dolby 5.1, with optional English and Spanish subtitles.

Writer/director Anthony Minghella provides a soothing commentary that goes into his ideas and thought processes. It is an excellent track that generally avoids a lot of the pat-on-the-back kudos and backlot anecdotes a lot of other tracks provide.

“Lie. Cheat. Steal. Love.” is a behind-the-scenes featurette that runs 13 minutes and is composed of lots of cast and crew interviews and film snippets. Six deleted scenes are available with or without Minghella’s commentary. The film’s theatrical trailer is also included.



A fascinating movie, written with great empathy around an intelligent concept, and acted like a dream. The Oscar-winner Anthony Minghella (The English Patient, 1996) again excels both as a director and a writer.

A double break-in into the offices of a London architectural firm co-owned by Will Francis (a liquid-vulnerable Jude Law) leads to a similar breakdown in Will's family life.

Feeling alienated from the "circle" of his live-in partner Liv (the ethereal Robin Wright Penn ) and her hyper-active autistic daughter Bea (Poppy Rogers), Will finds solace in his large-scale construction project at King's Cross, a rather mixed lower class neighborhood with a heavy concentration of immigrants.

Amira (Juliette Binoche of Bleu (1993), an irresistible talent with a perpetual girlish charm) is one such immigrant from Bosnia who took refuge in Britain with her 15-year old athletic son Miro (Rafi Gavron), the same kid who broke twice into Will's studio to steal his computers on behalf of his Serbian gang-leader uncle.

When Will follows Miro one night back to Amira's humble two-room apartment, he realizes that the thief's mother is the same woman that he accidentally met earlier outside his daughter Bea's dance studio.

One thing leads to another and Will and Amira become lovers. But perhaps all is not what it seems to be. Perhaps there is a hidden agenda underlying Amira's affection.

Yes, having been neglected for too long after losing her husband back in Sarajevo, Amira is hungry for human touch and attention. But after realizing who Will is and how he can hurt her son by going to the police, she arranges a blackmailing operation that she is not exactly proud of. But she feels she needs to do what a desperate mom gotta do to protect her son from going to jail.

On the other side of the equation, Liv continues her strained relationship both with a hard-to-control autistic Bea and Will. The two lovers (still?) don't even look at each other anymore when they ride in the same car. What happened to that beautiful relationship, Liv wonders frequently. Will has no easy answers, especially as he continues his trysts with Amira.

The last Act is devoted to all main characters facing their own truths. The chain reaction of events set in motion by Rafi's break-ins unravels a lot of lies and deception all around. So in one sense, the 15-year old thief comes across as the most innocent party in this whole social debacle.

Will comes clean with Liv but there still remains the question of how to repair his relationship with her and how to separate from Amira for whom he continues to have genuine affection.

When Rafi is at long last caught by police, both Will and Liv show up at his hearing and do a heroic flip-flop to save the boy from a long prison term.

At the end, Will goes back to Liv and Bea, while Amira returns to Bosnia with Rafi. What they leave behind is perhaps a better world in which grownups face their adult responsibilities while the children have more reliable role models that they can look up to.

A touching film with great authenticity brought to the script by Jude Law and Juliette Binoche.

Binoche has traveled to Sarajevo and stayed there for a while in preparation for her role, and it shows. From the "boreks" she fries for her son to the way she showers Rafi with unconditional affection, she embodies the vulnerable Bosnian tailor in the heart of London to the letter.

Ray Winstone, a solid character actor (The Departed (2006), The Proposition (2005)) and the English equivalent of Scottish Brian Cox, again delivers flawlessly as investigator Bruno Fella.

Robin Wright Penn (of House of Cards fame) is certainly an actress of significant consequence, almost in the same class as Meryl Streep in calibration. It's hard to believe she is acting at all, and that says a lot about her subtle gift.

And if you are already a Jude Law fan, this film will just re-confirm your reasons all too well.

8 out of 10 for Minghella's magic and his equally enchanting crew.

Only major negative: the shameless product placement of Mac computers.



"Breaking and Entering" is a metaphor
February 8, 2007
*** Jim Emerson  / www.rogerebert.com

The title of Anthony Minghella's dour "Breaking and Entering" is a metaphor. How do we know this? Well, for one thing, there's a burglary right at the start.

And the central character himself, Will Francis (Jude Law), demonstrates a fondness for metaphors in his dialogue. He's so fond of them that he even tells us he is fond of them in a climactic speech: "I don't even know how to be honest anymore. Maybe that's why I like metaphors." Then he goes on to describe a metaphor, where a circle represents his family, but it's also an enclosure or a cage, and he wants to feel comfortable in it but sometimes he feels trapped in it and sometimes he feels excluded from it.

It figures that Will is a partner in a London architecture and landscape design firm, since geometry looms so large in his consciousness. The guiding principle of his company, Green Effects, which is engaged in building a huge development in a squalid section of King's Cross, is to promote the concept of "built landscape as art, and one that requires as much care as any structure, and as much acknowledgment of design." And there you have another metaphor for "Breaking and Entering," a geometrical art-movie exercise defined by its structure and design.

The players on Minghella's cinematic Parcheesi board are arranged as follows: Will is in a 10-year relationship with Liv (Robin Wright Penn), the Swedish-American mother of a 13-year-old girl, Bea (Poppy Rogers), a gymnast with borderline-autistic behavioral disorders. On the opposing side is Amira (Juliette Binoche), a Bosnian Muslim widow and refugee who lives in a housing project with her difficult 15-year-old son, Miro (Rafi Gavron), who is also a gymnast of sorts. Miro uses his gravity-defying parkour skills to climb and break into buildings to steal electronic equipment for his Serbian uncle's burglary operation. To use a metaphor, these two mothers and children are opposing mirrored reflections of each other: blond/brunet, Swedish/Bosnian, upper-class/ working-class, girl/boy ... and Will finds himself caught between them. The symmetry is almost perfect. Which is in part why it all feels so planned, more like an architectural blueprint than a movie.

Every once in a while, to serve the higher call of the plotting, someone is called upon to make an utterly baffling and nonsensical move for no good reason. When Will, for example, leaves his business card with the mother of the boy he knows has been burgling his office and doesn't anticipate that the boy might feel just a bit paranoid and threatened by this mysterious gesture, you have to wonder how much humanity writer-director Minghella is willing to cede to his characters.

To help reinforce the title metaphor, up pops a Romanian prostitute. She is Oana (Vera Farmiga), who abruptly enters Will's car one night when he and his partner Sandy (Martin Freeman) are staking out their own office to catch the burglars.

No, it makes no sense whatsoever that Will and Sandy, the heads of this large company, would sit in their parking lot all night like this, or that Oana would bring Will coffee and sit in his car and not even charge him, or ... well, that's not the point, is it? She's breaking and entering, don't you see? She's slipping into his car and into his life, getting him to lower the power-windows of his smooth-riding, shock-absorbed existence. But Oana is just a metaphor tricked out in a big, blond wig. Once we get the idea -- actually, long after we get the idea -- the plot drops her like a hot potato. (That's a simile, not a metaphor. It's also a cliche, and so is she.)

With "Breaking and Entering," Minghella (best known as the director of "The English Patient" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley," starring Binoche and Law, respectively) seems to be trying his hand at a less ambitious Gonzalez Inarritu/Arriaga movie, like "Amores Perros" or "21 Grams" or "Babel," with interlocking mini-stories that illustrate how people from different backgrounds affect each other's lives. But what are the meaningful connections between these people's lives? Are they real and significant, or are they just plot contrivances, the manipulation of pawns in an onscreen board game? The actors are fine, but what does it matter when all they're given to play are avatars?

In the press notes, Jude Law spells it out: "The argument is: Is it worse to steal somebody's computer or is it worse to steal somebody's heart?" That's not even a decent metaphor (although, to be fair, the film is not about organ theft). It's simply an algebraic formulation: a > b or b > a, where "a" is "computer," "b" is "heart" and the nature of the relationship is "worse"?

Expressed in those terms, "Breaking and Entering"




*** Hollyu H
November 27, 2007
The story did tell sth. but the story line is not cohesive. Agree to Eric, i slept halfwya thru. REALLY REALLY BORING~


**** Eric S
November 26, 2007
I started watching this, fully expecting to fall asleep halfway through, but it kept me completely engrossed. It started a little too much like an overblown Apple ad, but it turned into a great character study, full of plot twists and thought-provoking situations.


*** Aaron P
November 26, 2007
there's just not enough in this movie to make it very good.



**** Sissi L
November 25, 2007
well written and complex


*** ½ Sean C
November 25, 2007
Has some good underlining tension. I think it's a good example of people's inability or trouble communicating with each other. It's this that makes me think of the scene where Jude Law and Robin Wright Penn are discussing what Sweden has besides Abba. They had Ingmar Bergman. Anyone interested in underlining tension or the lack of understanding between couples or humans in general should check out anything he's done.


*** ½ Private U
November 25, 2007
I think it is a smart, interesting and realistic movie until the last 10-15 minutes. The ending is a bit streched that takes away from the realistic part of the movie.


** ½ Gregory W
November 25, 2007
a little predictable and slow but well acted


*** ½  Clifford B
November 25, 2007
Interesting film which is well worth a look. Jude Law is excellent as lost soul trying to fathom out life personally and through work. Unusual set up to storyline and Juliette Binoche excellent. Peculiar and watchable in equal measure. Scene in the car discussing life's complexities with the street girl is excellent.


**** Melody S
November 25, 2007
As I found Cold Mountain a much lesser English Patient, I found this only a slightly lesser Talented Mr. Ripley. Binoche and Law are fantastic, and I'm sure repeat viewings will do it many favours. Gabriel Yared's score is the perfect accompaniment to the London architecture.


**** Hirut M
November 25, 2007
I saw this on the long haul to Dubai and thought it did a good job showing all the complex inner and outer circles you find yourself in. Jude Law's relationship with his girlfriend it cold but accurate I think.


*** Steve D
November 25, 2007
Meh. Some remarkable moments of beauty in this tale are unfortunately hampered by moments of characters' frustrating stupidity - not just stupid acts that we raise our eyebrows at, but also things that real people just wouldn't do. The "metaphor" thread was a nice touch and there's a couple of lump-in-throat moments towards the end, but the angst and rashness of some of the movie made it too overcooked for me. Anthony Minghella's still one of our best directors though, by far...


*** Private U
November 24, 2007
Didn't enjoy the overall story but the individual performances were compelling.


* ½ Private U
November 24, 2007
Well, I don't know...


**** ½ Karen S
November 24, 2007
Really believable movie... loved Juliette Binoche's performance


*** ½ Private U
November 24, 2007
Orignal story, good end, very good actors!


***  Gal P
November 24, 2007
Nice movie, it want get you sleep, the story is very original, but it's tring to hard to give a message to the viewer, and with the little parts of acation you get confused..


** Edwin C
November 24, 2007
About a man facing problems at home with his step-daughter and wife. He meets the mother of a bosnian kid that has been serially robbing his gorgeous King's Cross office.....and falls for her. Entertaining although Jude Law's performance was average at best.