starring Jude Law, Juliette Binoche, Robin Wright Penn, Ray Winstone
written and directed by Anthony Minghella
by Walter Chaw Carefully modulated for maximum inoffensiveness and awards-season consideration, Anthony Minghella's King's Cross diary Breaking and Entering plays less like a London native's Crash than like Woody Allen's solipsistic version of the same. Find the Aryan faction led by architect Will (Jude Law) and girlfriend Liv (Robin Wright Penn) and the foreigners by Croatian single-mom Amira (the increasingly one-note Juliette Binoche) and, in another star-making turn by Vera Farmiga, a Polish hooker named Oana. A weary detective (Ray Winstone) verbalizes the social schism Minghella doesn't trust his broadly-drawn depiction to articulate by itself and the storylines begin to mingle when Will follows, yes, a burglar back to his tenement flat. The wink and nod, of course, is that "breaking and entering" also refers to Will's intrusion into Amira's life, the immigrants' intrusion into London, Will's ambition to rebuild a marginal neighbourhood, and so on and so forth. Stunned with angsty white gentrifiers and tortured immigrants, it's the British Quinceañera, the kind of film that pans so desperately for importance that long passages of dialogue are wordy mission statements while the finale, in the ultimate concession to sloppiness and condescension, caves to that fatal compulsion to tie things up in tidy, attractive little passages. (Squint just a little and rainbows and ponies burst out of Will's ass.) Minghella's only ever been good when writing fairy tales, but making a children's story out of this material is a betrayal of a dedicated cast and a middlebrow demographic that deserves better than this handsome, pedagogical tongue bath whether it asks for it or not.