In Which Anthony Minghella’s Rambling Apologia for Jude Law’s Adultery and Indeed the Adultery of Men Everywhere Meets With the Wrong End of My Venom-Stick

After making two great, long movies back-to-back with Cold Mountain and the Talented Mr. Ripley, I was prepared to pretty much salute anything Anthony Minghella had to offer. He’s never been much of a writer, however. Somewhere, somehow, he got up in writing a two-hour apologia for Jude Law cheating on his wife with the nanny and turned it into a movie.

Breaking and Entering didn’t get off to much of a start. Casting Juliette Binoche as a Muslim refugee from Sarajevo wasn’t exactly a masterstroke. Basically this movie equates white people’s problems with those of war refugees. Such a film can’t help but be morally corrupt.

Law, who once had a most promising career, has strange range. They’ll end up casting him in every role known to man by the time he loses his looks, because he’s probably the most handsome actor of his generation. He has dark good looks but can do the blond thing. When it comes to roles, he’s either himself (Talented Mr. Rips, The Holiday) or a parody of himself (Closer, A.I., I Heart Huckabees). He has no other range, and unfortunately, not much capacity for drama, either. He’s also suffering from a serious sexual chemistry problem, in that his appeal is so obvious, he can’t generate any tension, because what woman could resist him?

The whole idea of making people’s faces what they are, in the world of film criticism comes from Pauline Kael, and Camille Paglia does quite a bit of it herself. It’s true–actors, the big ones, are more themselves than any character. This isn’t intrinsically good or bad, it just is. It’s why there are casting directors.

If I thought you should go see Breaking and Entering (a loathsome title, btw), I wouldn’t bother dropping major details. But you never should go see it, though I won’t spoil anything big. Law has been dating a woman (Robin Wright Penn) with an autistic child and no papable personality. I don’t know if Wright Penn though this was Gattaca or what but she didn’t exactly do much.

The film’s most appealing character is also its freshest face. Rafi Gavron was in Rome; he hasn’t been in much else. He does all those French jumping bean tricks, though the movie’s set in a bad part of London. He’s a Bosnian refugee as well, albeit one with a Serb father. That the film presumes to know what that is like instead of actually asking is one of its major moral inadequacies.

Gavron’s character, with Binoche as his mother, robs Jude Law’s architectural practice–called the Green Effect, the apparent architectural mission of the company is the opposite, a contradiction the script is too bored with itself to address. They steal about $5000 in computers. For the project Green Effect is about to embark on, this should be about .0001% of the budget, but that would be too real. This movie is about what’s not real, ignoring anything that actually might be interesting–poverty, race, class. The title says it all, really.

This movie also wastes Vera Farmiga as a prostitute. Not cool.

For a talented visual artist, Minghella has no clue how to even keep the audience remotely interested in what happens next. This of course is the most important part of any drama.

Instead, Breaking and Entering comes across as a desperate grasp for Oscar nominations in the Crash mold. It should be evidence enough that the Weinsteins didn’t think much of the film that it got this early a release date. Both B & E and Crash were pathetic excuses for art, but I can’t get mad atcha, Anthony. Just stick to adaptations, bub.

“Pale Horse” — John Vanderslice

“Stupid” — The Long Winters

“San Francisco” — Hello Saferide

“I Love You (In With the Arms)” — Loney, Dear

7 thoughts on “In Which Anthony Minghella’s Rambling Apologia for Jude Law’s Adultery and Indeed the Adultery of Men Everywhere Meets With the Wrong End of My Venom-Stick

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