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Essman, E. (2008). Breaking and Entering directed by Anthony Minghella Miramax: 2006, 120 minutes. Fort Da, 14(2):158-163.

(2008). Fort Da, 14(2):158-163

Breaking and Entering directed by Anthony Minghella Miramax: 2006, 120 minutes

Reviewed by
Eric Essman, M.A.

[G]reat projects are also areas of conflict, and we have to live with conflict and not try to raise it by artificial ways.

— Jean-Louis Cohen

“Crying your eyes out is a metaphor, like losing your heart. It doesn't mean that your eyes actually fall out.” So architect Will Francis (Jude Law) tries to explain a figure of speech to his autistic stepdaughter, Bea (Poppy Rogers). (“Autistic spectrum,” notes the family therapist.) The title phrase “breaking and entering” is certainly to be taken metaphorically, in this film in which multiple meanings threaten to vitiate the emotional impact of the literal. Like previous work directed by the late Anthony Minghella, Breaking and Entering incarnates many of the values and properties of what François Truffaut, writing in the 1950s, dismissed as evoking the “tradition of quality” (Brody, 2008, p. 58): literacy, polish, and right-thinking (what today we call “political correctness”). “Quality” connotes productions amply scaled and crafted with a high gloss but contained or constrained by extra-cinematic, literary, and scenic values perhaps intended to flatter more than challenge the bourgeois audience. Minghella films abide the criticism by embodying virtues of both scope and concentration: narrative shapeliness and layering; attention to detail and expressive use of décor; and grace (though not always under a maximum of pressure). They also feature beautiful human objects who manage to retain their charm and reflectiveness in spite of trauma suffered in some recent past — their history with a capital “H.”

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