There is a species of murder mystery, like say Columbo, where the fun is not in working out whodunnit. My run in with the London-wide mystery film phenom was a bit liek this in two ways. I had decided to go see the one at the Muswell Hill Odeon. Choice was based on proximity of friend (who in the end couldn’t come) and consideration of the kind of film which might be shown. I guessed that an Odeon was likely to have a “bigger” film, and I kind of fancied a preview rather than something out of the blue which might have rocked up at the Renoir or Arcola (more to follow). And hey, its Muswell Hill, it’ll probably be something middle-class.
Of the three films I had guessed, Breaking and Entering, the new Antony Minghella filum, has edging out Bond in my expectations. Especially when we were led into the poky smaller screen. And my guess was proved correct. Not only was it Breaking And Entering, it was also very middle-class. Insufferably so, if i was allowed to use such a criticism and after the fact, I realised I am not allowed. That is mere prejudice and the wants, desires and needs of a social group I pretty much belong to should be adequate fodder for a London thriller.
Perhaps the film is too London then. That may well be a criticism aimed at it, but that is what saved the film for me. Film almost wholly in locations I recognised, with a nice central meditation on the transition area of Kings Cross, I loved its London sequences. Its Jude Law sequences were a bit duller, and Juliet Binoche barely convinces as a Bosnian Muslim refugee (unlike the kid playing her -er – kid). It is plotted like a 1980’s French movie, all personal crises solved by unmotivated sex and constant arguing. But just when the film seems impossible to like, Martin Freeman does a comic turn, or Ray Winstone makes you laugh, Vera Farmiga’s* absurd but hilarious tart with a heart rocks up or there is some good free running. It is basically an absolute mess, loads of good turns and good ideas hidden behind a self-indulgent dull central plot. Which is the second mystery. I knew pretty much what I was getting when the title card came up. But unraveling the tasty tidbits from a mixed bag was the real fun.
*A DEPARTURE from her turn as the only female character in THE DEPARTED.