Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Christian

Breach

Recommended Posts

I saw "Breach" last night and, during parts of it, I was convinced it's the best pure studio movie I've seen since "Inside Man."

But it's not that good. I wasn't sure what to make of the father-son parallels, which felt tacked on, or the sudden troubles in the marriage of the main character.

But the film's depiction of Catholicism troubled me most of all. I wouldn't say this movie is anti-Catholic, but it plays up Robert Hansen's (sp?) faith throughout -- and we all know who the villain is.

If anyone has seen it, can you confirm that the film fails to mention Opus Dei until about 75% of the way through the movie's running time? Also, was Hansen's church portrayed as unusually Catholic? One character mentions that she spent the whole service kneeling, but I'm not sure how unusual that is among Catholics.

Back to Opus Dei. I suspect that, post Da Vinci Code, the filmmakers decided to strip most mentions of that group from this script. But that's just my theory. I kept waiting to see the Opus Dei angle, which was such a large part of the reporting of this scandal, played up in the movie, but instead saw Virgin Mary figurines, crucifixes on a wall, and people praying the rosary. Nothing too unusual in terms of Catholic practice, right?

Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. I guess I should look up "Opus Dei" on Wikipedia and get some more grounding the group (assuming Wikipedia is a reliable source; BIG assumption).

I will say that the story behind "Breach" has stoked my interest in reading David Vise's "The Bureau and the Mole," about the Hansen affair.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good, solid, conventional filmmaking. Very enjoyable, but not one we'll be remembering at awards time next year.

Yes -- just one mention of Opus Dei, very late in the game, and in passing conversation about a conversation that we don't actually see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good, solid, conventional filmmaking. Very enjoyable, but not one we'll be remembering at awards time next year.

Yes -- just one mention of Opus Dei, very late in the game, and in passing conversation about a conversation that we don't actually see.

As someone who thought Inside Man would get some awards attention, I'll hold my tongue about awards prospects for this film. :) But Cooper -- an Oscar favorite in past roles -- was great, and I was truly surprised by Ryan Phillipe (why can't I spell any of these names?). He couldn't have been better.

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At some point during the watching of this film, I thought, "Hmmm, this is kind of like Shattered Glass, isn't it?" Something about the subject, the style, the fact that it portrays events that took place 5-6 years ago.

And then the end credits came up and declared that the film was directed by Billy Ray.

Well, there you go. But I don't recall ever being conscious of that before. Was it in the opening credits? If so, I don't remember it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
At some point during the watching of this film, I thought, "Hmmm, this is kind of like Shattered Glass, isn't it?" Something about the subject, the style, the fact that it portrays events that took place 5-6 years ago.

And then the end credits came up and declared that the film was directed by Billy Ray.

Well, there you go. But I don't recall ever being conscious of that before. Was it in the opening credits? If so, I don't remember it.

I can't say I recall when the director's name came up, but I went into the film knowing who made it and so wasn't really looking for that detail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW, isn't it kind of funny that we have yet another movie in which Catholics with some sort of affiliation with Opus Dei describe themselves by saying "we aren't grocery store Catholics" -- or whatever the exact line is? The idea being that other Catholics merely pick-and-choose which parts of the faith suit them best, and thus probably aren't "real" Catholics anyway. I could have sworn that the Opus Dei-affiliated cardinal played by Alfred Molina in The Da Vinci Code said something pretty darn similar to that (though he might have used the phrase "cafeteria Catholics" instead).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good, solid, conventional filmmaking. Very enjoyable, but not one we'll be remembering at awards time next year.

Maybe we won't be remembering it, but Cooper was excellent. If the release were in the fall, it might be remembered.

I also wouldn't see the film as anti-Catholic. The strenuousness of Hannse's Catholicism adds a great complexity to the character. The irony is the implication that the why (unimportant as characters say the why is) of his actions are more hubris than anything else. Perhaps that's not really ironic, because I suspect there is a bit of hubris in most religious extremism, which Hannsen at least borders on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
trh47   
I saw "Breach" last night and, during parts of it, I was convinced it's the best pure studio movie I've seen since "Inside Man."

But it's not that good. I wasn't sure what to make of the father-son parallels, which felt tacked on, or the sudden troubles in the marriage of the main character.

But the film's depiction of Catholicism troubled me most of all. I wouldn't say this movie is anti-Catholic, but it plays up Robert Hansen's (sp?) faith throughout -- and we all know who the villain is.

If anyone has seen it, can you confirm that the film fails to mention Opus Dei until about 75% of the way through the movie's running time? Also, was Hansen's church portrayed as unusually Catholic? One character mentions that she spent the whole service kneeling, but I'm not sure how unusual that is among Catholics.

Back to Opus Dei. I suspect that, post Da Vinci Code, the filmmakers decided to strip most mentions of that group from this script. But that's just my theory. I kept waiting to see the Opus Dei angle, which was such a large part of the reporting of this scandal, played up in the movie, but instead saw Virgin Mary figurines, crucifixes on a wall, and people praying the rosary. Nothing too unusual in terms of Catholic practice, right?

Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. I guess I should look up "Opus Dei" on Wikipedia and get some more grounding the group (assuming Wikipedia is a reliable source; BIG assumption).

I will say that the story behind "Breach" has stoked my interest in reading David Vise's "The Bureau and the Mole," about the Hansen affair.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
trh47   
Good, solid, conventional filmmaking. Very enjoyable, but not one we'll be remembering at awards time next year.

Maybe we won't be remembering it, but Cooper was excellent. If the release were in the fall, it might be remembered.

I also wouldn't see the film as anti-Catholic. The strenuousness of Hannse's Catholicism adds a great complexity to the character. The irony is the implication that the why (unimportant as characters say the why is) of his actions are more hubris than anything else. Perhaps that's not really ironic, because I suspect there is a bit of hubris in most religious extremism, which Hannsen at least borders on.

Reply: I just saw the movie and think it is very clearly, very outspokenly anti-catholic. Hanssen's behavior related to religion adds nothing to the movie or to understanding the character and why he acted the way he did. He actually had been Lutheran and he converted to catholicism for his wife. In the book Spy Handler, a memoir by a KGB officer (Victor Cherkashin), who was actually Hanssen's handler, the motive is described not due to money or ideology, but more as Hanssen's wanting to have control over others, perhaps because as a child he had been treated roughly by his police officer father. This is the aspect that should have been brought out in the movie, but wasn't because the director chose to put the focus on Hanssen's religion instead. The director obviously thought that anti-catholicism would be more of a popular theme, which it probably is particularly among liberals who think religious persons are phonies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Reply: I just saw the movie and think it is very clearly, very outspokenly anti-catholic. Hanssen's behavior related to religion adds nothing to the movie or to understanding the character and why he acted the way he did. He actually had been Lutheran and he converted to catholicism for his wife. In the book Spy Handler, a memoir by a KGB officer (Victor Cherkashin), who was actually Hanssen's handler, the motive is described not due to money or ideology, but more as Hanssen's wanting to have control over others, perhaps because as a child he had been treated roughly by his police officer father. This is the aspect that should have been brought out in the movie, but wasn't because the director chose to put the focus on Hanssen's religion instead. The director obviously thought that anti-catholicism would be more of a popular theme, which it probably is particularly among liberals who think religious persons are phonies.
But Hannsen's Catholicism is obviously overboard. It doesn't represent mainline Roman Catholic practice and the film makes it clear that it is not. His is the zealousness of a religious extremist.

How that plays into his character is very interesting. It makes him extremely complex. Religious zealot, pornographer, traitor; but also very vulnerable - as he is in the confessional.

Control is a big part of the why, I suppose. It certainly is involved with his unannounced visits to Eric's apartment, his proselitizing Julianna, and

filming his wife for porno tapes

. But I think the why is such a gestalt that it can never fully be understood. That is part of what makes Hannsen so interesting. He is far more than the sum of the parts we see.

BTW, a hint on quoting people. When you hit the reply button, make sure you start typing after the [ /quote ] that show up in the typing box. Welcome to the board.

Edited by Darrel Manson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I just saw the movie and think it is very clearly, very outspokenly anti-catholic. Hanssen's behavior related to religion adds nothing to the movie or to understanding the character and why he acted the way he did.

I'm not so sure. His obsession with the ritual (but not the most basic teachings of actually following Christ) of the Roman Catholic church indicates some sort of mental divide where he believed the outward form is more important than the inward character.

He actually had been Lutheran and he converted to catholicism for his wife.
That was mentioned in the film.

In the book Spy Handler, a memoir by a KGB officer (Victor Cherkashin), who was actually Hanssen's handler, the motive is described not due to money or ideology, but more as Hanssen's wanting to have control over others...

And isn't that what he was trying to do, using the instruments of the Roman Catholic church to make everyone around him conform to his extremely conservative point-of-view?

...perhaps because as a child he had been treated roughly by his police officer father. This is the aspect that should have been brought out in the movie, but wasn't because the director chose to put the focus on Hanssen's religion instead.
It was pretty clear to me that Hanssen's father had been very hard on him. The movie hammered that point several times.

The director obviously thought that anti-catholicism would be more of a popular theme, which it probably is particularly among liberals who think religious persons are phonies.

Oh, I think you're making a big assumption here. Furthermore, I don't think Hanssen was portrayed as a phony, just someone who was very religious, but not actually a follower of Christ. And there's lots of people like that, especially in the Catholic and Protestant forms of Christianity. They are obsessed with the forms of religion, but do not actually take the teachings of Jesus seriously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joel C   

IMO, the film isn't anti-Catholic as much as it is reflective of certain strains of Catholicism. I thought that the telling part about religion in the movie was where Hanssen asks O'Neill to pray for him. O'Neill's response that he would do so was to me the most sincere moment of faith in the film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I didn't find the film anti-Catholic or anti-religious--although it's certainly not "pro", either.

I agree. It was respectful.

Man... what a disappointing film on other levels, though. (I just came back from seeing it.)

I'm sure there are all kinds of intriguing details in the Hanssen story, and maybe most of them are classified. But the film doesn't dig very deep. I've read a few sketchy articles about Hanssen, and I can't say I came away having learned much more than that. Couldn't they have done better than just another "spies make tough sacrifices and their spouses are miserable" story? Cooper's played variations on this character before. And Laura Linney's performance was, well, just about what you expect from Laura Linney.

I wonder what it is about elaborate liars that interests Billy Ray so much.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×