Monday, February 19, 2007


I don't actually get out to the movies very often, but it so happens that once again I was in Manhattan with my sister and we decided to go. Breach is the story of Robert Hanssen, the FBI agent who sold secrets to the Russians, and Eric O'Neill, the rookie who takes him down. I enjoyed the film, although it lacks the nail-biting suspense and cat-and-mouse drama I was hoping for.

Chris Cooper is outstanding as the brilliant, mercurial Hanssen, changing from avuncular to vicious in the blink of an eye. The movie perfectly captures Hanssen's seething bitterness at the Bureau's failure to recognize his genius. But although it hints at the pervert lying under his veneer of ultra-Catholic dogmatism, it never tries to show why Hanssen, a convert, would so wholeheartedly embrace a religion that would automatically define his sexual needs as deviant.

I had never paid much notice to Ryan Phillippe before, but he's definitely got my attention now. Not so much for his performance, which was believable if not inspired. What do they call that little indentation above a person's upper lip? His is beautifully shaped; I kept wanting to put my finger right there. (TMI? So be it.) The real Eric O'Neill was a consultant on this film, so it's no surprise that he comes off as a little too good to be true. Phillippe does have a couple of fine scenes, including one with Bruce Davison as his father, and a climactic showdown with Hanssen, where he shows he knows the older man well enough to push all his buttons.

Laura Linney is also fine in a small but crucial part as the agent running the investigation (she has a few of the best lines). More puzzling is the casting of such well-known faces as Davison, Gary Cole, and Denis Haysbert in roles that are little more than extended cameos.

1 comment:

Sally said...

I really liked this movie, as well, (though it isn't Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy...) It still had me glued to the television way past my bedtime.