Breaking and Entering Anthony Minghella

By now, everybody should have had enough of tender dramas about the damaged bourgeois feeling all broken up about the underclass. But the category of "everybody” seems to exclude Anthony Minghella, who’s just done another of these needless and facile hand wringers to no discernable end.

Jude Law plays the lead, an architect whose firm (unwisely located in the sleazy King’s Cross section of London) is the subject of frequent break-ins. It doesn’t help that he’s having problems with partner Robin Wright Penn and their (I think) autistic daughter but of course, the whole thing blows up when he tracks one of the young Serbian Muslim perps back home and then starts an affair with his mother (Juliette Binoche).

If you thought American Beauty was the epitome of film art, this might do the trick for you — here are more speeches about being misunderstood, more affluent guilt and rebellion, and the added bonus of damaged ex-Sarajevans to whose problems we can condescend. None of the "poor and downtrodden” scenes will be tolerated by anyone in hailing distance of a Dardenne Brothers movie though; this movie is a high school social studies class next to the masters’ graduate seminars in poverty.

True, Vera Farmiga and The Office’s Martin Freeman shine as a prostitute and Law’s second-in-command, respectively; they manage to evoke inner life and nuance beyond what their sketchy roles suggest. But in the end, the movie is cheesy liberal self-congratulation masquerading as social conscience, and it won’t satisfy anyone who’s looking for something substantial.

Still, fans of cinema illogic won’t want to miss the penultimate scene, which clears up Law’s open relationship with Penn in record time.

(Alliance Atlantis)