14 January 2015 | secondtake
Beautifully wrought, well done, well acted, contemporary London
Breaking and Entering (2006)
Underrated. The acting is so good, and the story so interesting and not quite familiar (even if it uses some familiar ideas), and the way it is filmed and told so expert, it's hard to see why there aren't more people appreciating this. I really liked it, and was never distracted and disappointed.
First there is Jude Law, a nuanced actor who rises above his reputation as a pretty man. He manages to come off as a self-absorbed jerk with a nice interior, then as a truly good man, then as a tortured adulterer. And some things between, all restrained and quite believable in a proper, well-educated London scene. Against him and even more astonishing (as usual) is Juliette Binoche, playing a Bosnian immigrant with a troubled son. Binoche's accent, to an American ear, and her mannerisms were so real I had to look her up to see if she really was born and raised in France (she was, in Paris, though her mother came from Poland).
It is the troubled son who connects the two. Add a troubled marriage that Law's character has with a neurotic but striving wife (Robin Penn Wright) and their own daughter and her autistic tendencies, and you have a complicated world. And it takes a director like the also underrated Anthony Minghella ("The English Patient"), who made only eight movies before his early death, to make sense of this without pandering to sensation. And keeping it visually beautiful.
There are flaws here, partly in the writing (also Minghella's hand), adding elements that seem a bit forced (the "good" prostitute, for example). And perhaps even the end, which is beautiful and idealistic and dramatic but a hair sudden after all, needed a different tilt. But in all there is psychology and sentiment and narrative twisting enough for any solid contemporary movie. It still resonates, even a decade later.
So why the lack of appreciation? My first guess is that it isn't flashy, it never goes over any edge. You might say it takes no chances. But if you like a really well made drama for what it is, this is one to try.