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BREAKING IN

USA, 1989 (MIFF 1991, Fiction)

Director: Bill Forsyth

Both the Scottish-born director, Bill Forsyth, and the quintessentiatly American John Sayles (who wrote the original screenplay for Breaking In), have spent a lot of love and care on this project. They have created a comedy that seems to be an old-fashioned buddy movie, though it never behaves in the manner of anything you've seen before, except maybe Forsyth's Gregory's Girl or Local Hero.

The story, which is the least of Breaking In, is about the briefly successful partnership of Ernie (Burt Reynolds), an aging (61 year old) specialist in breaking and entering, and the much younger Mike (Casey Siemaszko), who breaks and enters, though not initially for profit.

Ernie and Mike meet one memorable night in the same darkened house. One thing leads to another and Ernie invites Mike to be his partner.

The movie is an accumulation of wonderfully buoyant, sometimes irrational details that would be throwaways in more conventional comedies. They are the substance of Forsyth's method.

Much is being made of the fact that Reynolds's Ernie is at least 10 years older than the actor. However old the character is supposed to be, Reynolds has not appeared more fit - nor has he given a more accomplished performance - in a very long time. He has something of the defensive smoothness of a David Mamet con artist. Siemaszko, who has the look of a contemporary Huckleberry Finn, works extremely well with the star, being a dissonant note that gives the film a strength it wouldn't otherwise possess.

Beautifully realised subsidiary performances are contributed by Sheila Kelly, as Mike's adored hooker, Maury Chaykin, as Mike's lawyer; Steve Tobolowsky, as the district attorney, and Charles Bernard, who turns up near the end as a judge and, just by listening to a speech given by Mike in his own defence, puts himself in the position to steal the movie." - Vincent Canby, The New York Times

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