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Monday, August 13, 2007


- Phillippe and Cooper in church

This week's DVD was a loner from my sister ... Breach. I accepted the loan because I like Chris Cooper, but dim bulb that I am, I had no idea what it was about, much less that it was a fictional recreation of real circumstances.

Breach is a 2007 film starring Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, and Laura Linney. The film is directed by Billy Ray and is based on the story of Eric O'Neill, an upstart FBI operative working under Robert Hanssen, an agent convicted of spying for the Soviet Union (and, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia) for 15 years ... - wikipedia

The acting by Cooper was very good, I thought, and one of my favorite character actors, Gary Cole (American Gothic, Crusade), also had a part in the movie. The story told is about how Robert Hansen, an FBI agent nearing retirement and suspected of espionage , is brought down with the help of a young operative placed as his clerk. What makes the movie interesting is not so much the spy stuff, but the character study of Hansen.

Cooper actually made me like and feel compassionately toward Hansen, and that wasn't easy ... he was an anti-feminist, homophobic, supernumerary member of Opus Dei, who kept a stripper, and made porn tapes of he and his wife having sex without her knowledge ... oh, and he was a spy :-)

An interesting bit only alluded to in the movie was that according to the New York Times, Hansen's wife, years before he was caught, figured out he was spying, and got him to go to reconciliation, confessing all to a priest, the former head of Opus Dei in the U.S. The priest didn't reveal his secret, of course.

For those interested, there's an article from the Washington Post on the movie and the situation on which it was based - A Walk in the Dark


Blogger Garpu the Fork said...

I think I need to see're the second person who's discussed it recently. I was afraid it would be overly anti-Catholic.

10:13 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

It didn't seem especially anti-Catholic to me .... in a way, the religiosity of Cooper's character was one of the most likeable things about him. They could have plyed up the Opus Dei angle in a negative way ... Wikipedia says Hansen's Opus Dei-ness was even mentioned in the Da Vinci Code movie :-) ... but they didn't.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Great movie. I thought Cooper gave a captivating performance, brilliantly representing the kind of person who struggles mightily with two conflicting sides of himself.

I'd expected OD and the Church to take a real hammering in the film, but I actually thought it was handled quite well. No gratuitous cheap shots.

2:59 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Jeff, that's what I thought too - it was pretty even handed, considering what they had to work with.

4:30 PM  
Blogger cowboyangel said...

I really enjoyed Breach. One of the better recent films I've seen. I did wonder, though, about Hansen's Catholicism. How he could reconcile what he was doing with his faith - both the spying and the porn stuff. It's easy to say that someone like him didn't really believe, but I don't know if that's true. It's interesting that the movie begins in the Church. But I thought the filmmakers could've delved into this subject more.

3:24 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

He seemed very conflicted in the movie, and he was a convert - maybe he was already worried about his behavior and hoped joining the Church would help him change for the better. Look at Augustine - change me for the better, God, but not quite yet :-)

4:46 PM  

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