Aug 19, 2007

Breaking and Entering on DVD

Breaking and Entering is the latest film from Anthony Minghella, starring Jude Law, Robin Wright Penn and Juiette Binoche. Law plays a London architect whose company has just moved into new offices in the gentrifying but still rough area of Kings Cross. Twice in one week his office is burglarized and the thieves make off with a load of Apple computers and other high tech gadgets, an odd bit of product placement that has a character saying cryptically at one point, "Macs are fantastic."

One of the adolescent thugs, played by Rafi Gavron in his promising film debut, is a Bosnian refugee living with his mother (Binoche) who works as a tailor out of the small council flat they share. Determined to catch the thieves, Law stakes out the office one night. Sure enough, because this is a movie, the young thug makes another attempt to break in, only to be stopped and pursued by Law. He trails Gavron back to the flat where he sees the small card on the flat door advertising Binoche's tailoring services. Struck by the thug's youth and fancying himself a man of social conscience, Law returns the next day under the guise of needing her to mend a torn jacket. An awkward romantic connection is established, building to a hurried consummation days later that Binoche, having become aware, unbeknownst to Law, of Gavron's crimes, has a friend surreptitiously photograph.

Out of the loop, and also, almost, her mind is Penn's character, Law's live-in girlfriend, and her autistic teenage daughter from a previous involvement, played by Poppy Rogers. Penn's scenes are steeped in sadness, informed by a past of betrayals and dead ends that has her and her daughter shutting out Law.

The symmetry of this complex love triangle builds and shifts, exploring privileged guilt, morality, forgiveness and the blurred lines of social class. The conflicts, shortcomings and aspirations of the three leads are brought forth symphonically, with themes echoed in dialogue and action in Minghella's assured directorial style (he's also the writer) with a pitch perfect soundtrack by Gabriel Yared and Underworld. What could have seemed heavy handed and touchy-feely in different hands is deftly executed here with balanced, believable performances. Binoche's performance in particular is breathtaking.

Vera Farmiga has a memorable turn as a hooker with a heart of gold and a taste for electro, Range Rovers, lattes and fox stoles.

It's a worthy rental when you're in the mood for a cinematic examination of class with a drop dead gorgeous cast and a richly visual backdrop of sophisticated urban design. 3.5/5