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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Breaking and Entering, a perfect goodbye note from Mr Minghella, and the oblivion of our critics (again). Written and directed by Anthony Minghella.

Breaking and entering is a perfect film despite all the negative criticisms from the critics and its low gross avenue. It is Anthony’s last film and it’s a perfect goodbye note to this superficial society of ours. Breaking and Entering intimately defines all the social barriers of our society, the walls that keep our senses of humanity from coming together. These barriers as portrays by Anthony exist in all social classes and families. And to break down these barriers, Anthony cleverly defines the different forms of acceptance that we as a society have yet to come to term with, hence discrimination, poverty and social class segregation still linger amidst our modern and stylish, first world society.

It seems as though, being from a wealthier and privilege world, we constantly try to reach out to the less fortunate ones. But what does it mean to really help someone, is it just simply the act of giving materials and money? Anthony metaphorically selects Kings Cross, a low social economic area within London where an architecture firm is trying to better the look of the area, styling it in order for it to look like a better place. While at the heart of story, the social barriers between the privileged and the un-privileged societies are gradually being revealed and eventually broken. More importantly, barriers that define the freedom of our human hearts and minds are also revealed and broken. Anthony specifically emphasises that the act of ‘breaking an entering’ is a one true remedy that betters the place and any places.

The contrasts of the two worlds are apparent: Will (Jude Law) and Liv (Robin Wright Penn) live in an empty, cold house though chic, sleek and clean in comparison to Amira (Juliette Binoche) and Miros’ cramp and small yet intimate house. And their social barriers are also very apparent: Will is disconnected from his unmarried partner Liv and his intellectually disable step daughter; Amira and her son Miro live separate lives though they are in close proximity, the war and their pasts have also made it difficult for them to share a mother and son life. While Will is trying to chic up Kings Cross for it look like his own town, a burglary incident involving Miro brings Will into Amira’s life. And there, various events of ‘breaking and entering’ take place. Will is drawn to the intimacy and simplicity of Amira’s life and Amira being an immigrant and a weaker member of society, learns to let go of her fears, her defensiveness and restore her faith of humanity despite having to survive through the Bosnian war and her husband murder. In knowing each other lives and breaking down each of their own personal barriers, Will and Amira are then able to break down the social barriers existing in their own homes. This movie almost follows the philosophy of ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ which is made famous by the adorably charming Leonard Cohen. Everything about this film is perfect, the simple dialogues, the reality of the characters and the extraordinariness of our ordinary lives which we often forsaken. It is subtly powerful and beautiful, and the drama, though without the theatrical screaming and overt emotion of the many ‘oh-so Hollywood films’, is amazingly real and effective.

Petty Larceny from the New York Post calls it ‘sluggish’ and states that ‘Not much else rings true in Minghella's screenplay, which is full of coincidences and speeches about race and class’. This woman obviously is trapped in her own mind like those from ‘Sex and the City’ and her philosophy in life is as deep as those belong to Oprah Winfrey. A.O. Scott from The New York Times was too busy counting how many ‘I’m sorry’ were uttered throughout the film, hence his review is nothing but an essay on a separate subject, the subject of making ‘apology’. William Arnold from Seattle Post-Intelligencer has nothing intelligent so say about the film except that ‘it has no vitality, force or discernible purpose’. He obviously needs everything to spell out clearly like A-V-A-T-A-R. David (from the Movie Show) thought that ‘some motivations aren’t entirely clear, but this is still a smart, well-played drama’ and Margaret ‘at a certain point, you're hard-pressed to work out, you know, where the emphasis should be’. Keep on working your minds David and Margaret, please don’t stop.

In this film, I believe, Mr Minghella challenges us to break and enter our own fears and social barriers, and those who have the heart and kindness to do so would enjoy the film immensely, as for those who don’t, then they still have much to live through and learn.


  1. Such a beautiful review, and I couldn't agree more with everything you've said about this gorgeous film. Thank you!

  2. Hey Meg,

    Thanks for dropping by! Have you got a blog too?