11 January 2008

Breaking and Entering

An anonymous person recommended this film to me in the comments section, so I obediently stuck it on my Netflix queue and watched it last night. I can see why one would think I would like this movie: billed as a 'thinking person's drama', directed by Anthony Minghella (whose other movies I have enjoyed) and filled with class and ethnic tensions, street ninjas, and a main character who occasionally talks about metaphor. 

But I didn't like it. Ok, the street ninja aspect was awesome. If you don't know what street ninjas are, check this out. Fast forward to about 2:15 or so, the beginning is dumb. Anyhow, yeah, I was pleased to see this kick-ass cultural movement make it onto the big screen. But that was about all I really liked in this movie. Well, and it was pretty. Oh, and there was a subtext about architecture and class that was kind of interesting, but it never got developed. Which is right in keeping with the movie's flaws in general - it uses these various ideas as decoration, without really exploring them. So Jude Law, the protagonist, is talking about how he finds it annoying that urban planners insist on stuffing in some grass or whatever to give an illusion of being connected to nature, and this is kind of an interesting idea, but all it ends up being good for is a trite lecture from a prostitute on how he can't handle the only wild thing in his life (a fox that lives in his backyard), which I suppose is supposed to imply that he's a control freak. Bo-ring. It's a totally superficial engagement with the underlying ideas, it's just meant to sound profound. That kind of thing drives me crazy - it's why I can't stand most Richard Linklater movies.

But ultimately, what is so infuriating about this movie is that it pretends to be this exploration of the way these people's lives get interconnected across class and ethnicity, but really, it's all moving towards getting Jude Law to stop being such a self-absorbed prick and realize what a good woman he's got at home. Everything in the plot is totally instrumental, purely there to help this narcissistic, melodramatic, petulant drama queen man up. And while he does indeed end up doing the right thing and going home to his woman, he doesn't actually undergo any kind of convincing psychological transformation. Meanwhile, all the chaos he's wrought in life neatly disappears - most particularly, the immigrants go back to Sarajevo where they belong. There's this subtle classist xenophobia about it, too - the damn immigrants can go back home to their hell-hole, and you know, hopefully the other ones will go on to prison, and meanwhile the upper-class deranged daughter of his girlfriend can get the care and attention she deserves (the parallel is interesting here, her obsessive gymnastics as a contrast to Miro's street ninja antics - one is socially acceptable, albeit unhealthy, the other is criminal). There's this scene, where Jude Law is debating whether or not to show up to court and potentially save Miro from a life in prison, and he just _can't_ face the prospect because it would mean publicly admitting his infidelity and threatening his precious domestic sphere. I almost threw something at the tv. Gawd. And the point isn't to critique his self-absorption and complete lack of moral fibre. I think you're meant to actually _sympathize_ with the asshole.

Ok, the metaphor thing - Jude Law has this schtick where he likes to use metaphor. He doesn't actually do it much in the movie, he just kind of mentions it once in awhile. And what he keeps saying is something about how metaphors are dishonest; he uses them because they're vague and they allow him to be evasive. I found this rather obnoxious. The point of metaphor, to me, is that it tells you something true that you can't really express in logical discourse. Not to mention, his metaphors suck: "You are like two circles, and I'm outside them, but a part of me sees those circles as a cage". Not only is it a mixed metaphor, it's a totally flat and uninteresting one. So yeah, not earning any points there.

Ultimately, this movie is totally skip-able. But I appreciate the recommendation, anonymous! Thanks! Keep 'em coming!
Seriously, I love recommendations. And comments in general, though it'd be nice to slap your name on there.

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