Inside the Ellie, Hickenlooper introduced Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella (pictured), who'd been chosen to receive this year's Mayor's Career Achievement Award, and Hick's speech overflowed with more than the typical amount of hyperbole. He praised Minghella for making seven terrific films, when in fact he's only helmed six (the director subsequently said he hoped that mysterious extra flick "was a good one"), and listed Jude Law among those Minghella had directed to an Oscar even though the twice-nominated actor has yet to win a statuette.
Minghella's response to these compliments was charmingly self-effacing, and so were his remarks about Breaking and Entering, his latest effort, and the evening's cinematic centerpiece. After joking that he would rather be screening Borat for the attendees, he called Breaking, which stars Law, Juliette Binoche and Robin Wright Penn, an odd film to begin a festival, and after hinting that the flick hadn't come out quite the way he'd envisioned, he pleaded with the audience for patience.
Turns out these words weren't an example of false modesty.
In his talk prior to the screening, Minghella said his film dealt with the collision of class (and presumably, people of differing ethnicity and faith) in modern London. But Breaking only offers tentative gestures toward such themes via a couple of minor characters (a black cleaning woman and a stereotypical Eastern European prostitute) whose storylines are jettisoned early on and aren't resolved in a satisfactory manner. Likewise, the autistic daughter comes across more as a literary device -- a complication -- than a believable creation. That leaves the central triangle of Law and Penn, stuck in a monochromatically dour mode, and Binoche, doing the famous-actress-speaks-in-showy-accent thang that even Meryl Streep has abandoned. Had Minghella established an emotional connection between Law and Penn (and, by extension, the audience), this narrative thread might have held the rest of the action together. But it snaps early on, stranding viewers in a dreary tone poem that limps to a tepid conclusion.
The applause afterward was muted, and so were the comments of the socialites in the crowd -- at least until they neared the site of the after-party. The movie may have been a disappointment, but the opportunity to show off their toniest outfits was anything but. -- Michael Roberts