Sound check 

Never mind what you’re seeing in an Anthony Minghella picture, says the Oscar-winning director of "The English Patient" — it’s all about what you’re hearing.

"There’s a love that I have of music and for me, before I actually write a film, I have to know what a movie is going to sound like," Minghella says. "It can be a quandary. I remember doing ‘The English Patient’ … I was stuck and then I came across some Hungarian Transylvanian music and that was the beginning of me starting to write the film."

Needless to say, the man’s iPod is loaded.

Absorbing the actual mood of the film through its sound first has paid off for Minghella, whose previous gems include such opera-like cinematic soirees as "Truly, Madly, Deeply," "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Cold Mountain."

Minghella’s latest, "Breaking and Entering," which he wrote and directed, hits theaters Friday.

Headlined by Jude Law, the film uses its central story line of a break-in at an architectural design firm in London’s crime-laced King’s Cross as a larger metaphor for more serious burglaries. Namely, the idea of stealing one’s heart.

The film finds Law befriending, and later having an affair with, the mother (Juliette Binoche) of a suspected teenage culprit. Robin Wright Penn costars as Law’s girlfriend, a beleaguered mother preoccupied with the emotional mood swings of her troubled young daughter.

Minghella came up with the idea for the film years ago while working on "Cold Mountain." During that time, his own offices in London had been burgled.

The police officials had asked him that if they had caught one of the thieves, would he be able to sit with them in one of the rehabilitation meetings.

"I had never heard of a rehabilitation meeting and when I did, I thought it something ridiculous," Minghella recalls, "but the more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me, that that was what movies are; what plays are — opportunities to reconcile."

As for the hypnotic tone — the actual sound — of "Breaking and Entering," Minghella says he created a "desperately eclectic play list," something that lured him toward using people like PJ Harvey, whose work is prominent throughout the film.

The artist’s work has a "naked ferocity and honesty," he says.

In the meantime, the movie has another ingredient for potential success: Law, whom Minghella worked with in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Cold Mountain."

"Jude is a kind of director’s dream in a sense because he’s very smart, he’s very committed and he’s zero maintenance," Minghella say. "He’s perfect to a fault. He also understands what I am writing and has great sympathy for it. There’s something intrinsically organic about working with him. It becomes not a question of ‘why work with him?’ but ‘why not?’"

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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