Reviewed Feb 09, 2012
Mitchell Beaupre’s review:
As per usual with Minghella, this is a film that goes through plenty of different layers. The title itself as a bounty of different meanings to it. Taken literally, it refers to the several break-ins that occur throughout the beginning of the film that spiral everything that is to follow. However if you look deeper, you can find several different metaphorical meanings to the title. It could be referring to the lives that we see. They are already broken, and we enter these lives to see how they play out and progress. It could also be referring to the relationship between Will and Amira. He breaks in to her life and as a result, she enters his and we see how his life changes as a result.
I also loved how Minghella studied the parallels between the two mother-child relationships in the film. Both deal with troubled children and mothers who are trying their best to create the best lives for their child. On one spectrum there is Amira and Miro. Due to an absent father and poor finances, Amira is forced to work as hard as she can to provide for Miro. However, he gets involved with criminals and becomes more and more entwined into these break-ins, as he is the only one who can actually be punished by law since he's the only one who physically breaks in. Amira has to work as much as she can and, as a result, she neglects Miro which leads to his actions. On the other side of the spectrum there is Liv and Bea. Bea suffers from a very extreme case of obsessive compulsive disorder and this takes a heavy toll on the lives of her and her parents. Unlike Amira though, Liv has a husband who works very hard and can provide constant economical support to the family. This allows her to quit her job and spend all of her time with Bea, doing her best to make sure she's alright. It's very interesting to see how these two similar relationships progress throughout the film with opposite approaches to trying to fix the problem.
Another interesting story that Minghella subtly unfolds is how immigrants are treated and how they live in a more established structure. In poverty-stricken areas people like Amira can be very well and have great jobs, such as a pianist. However when they have to pick up and move, it's extremely difficult to find any kind of job so she has to resort to being a tailor working out of her own home. This element is also displayed with Erika, who has to resort to being a cleaning lady and is automatically accused when the break-ins first start.
Minghella does a great job of layering so many magnificent and deep stories under one overlying story of how a break-in causes a man to re-evaluate his life. As always in his pictures, the score and cinematography are divine. Simply marvelous work. The performances are all brilliant. Jude Law is phenomenal in a very subtle display of a troubled man, dealing with numerous problems, just trying to be happy with his life. Binoche is deep and absorbed in her role as a mother who will do anything to protect her son. Penn perfectly portrays a mother who is trying to keep her relationship stable, while dealing with a very troubled daughter. Even the supporting actors nail their roles. Martin Freeman, as always, is absolutely hilarious and provides some much needed comedic support. Ray Winstone and Vera Farmiga are severely underused, but they nail their parts perfectly.