Will Francis (Jude Law) is a landscape architect living in London with his Swedish-American girlfriend Liv Ullman (Robin Wright) and her adolescent autistic daughter Bea (Poppy Rogers), a talented gymnast whose increasing difficulties with sleeping and eating are putting a strain on Will and Liv's relationship. The offices of Will and his partner Sandy (Martin Freeman) are repeatedly burgled by fifteen-year-old Mirsade "Miro" Simic (Rafi Gavron) and his friend Zoran (Ed Westwick), who work for a ring of Bosnian-speaking criminals. One night Will catches Miro in the act and follows him to his home, where he lives with his mother Amira (Juliette Binoche), a Bosnian Muslim who fled Sarajevo with him after his Serbian father was murdered in the Bosnian War. Rather than turn Miro in, Will begins an affair with Amira.
Breaking and Entering contains examples of:
- Bilingual Dialogue: When Amira and Miro argue, Amira switches back and forth between Bosnian and English, while Miro sticks to English.
- Daddy Didn't Show: Bea is disappointed when Will misses yet another of her gymnastics performances due to work, although her coach Paul (Eddie Sicoli) films it so he can watch it later.
- Disappeared Dad: Little is known about Bea's biological father, except that he basically never sees her.
- Lost Pet Grievance: Bea cries when one of the inhabitants of the family's fishtank dies.
- Naked in Mink: While Will is waiting for the burglar, the prostitute Oana (Vera Farmiga) sits in his car because wearing a fur coat with nothing under it is cold.
- Ominous Legal Phrase Title: Breaking and Entering.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Miro dislikes the name Mirsade, although his mother likes it because it saved his life by making him seem Muslim instead of Serbian.
- Le Parkour: Miro and Zoran are both talented traceurs, which helps them break into the skylight of Will and Sandy's offices. When the police chase them across the roof of Miro's housing development, they escape for the time being by jumping about twenty feet down from one roof to another without getting injured.
- Picky Eater: As a young child, Bea would only eat foods of certain colors. Her food issues intensified as she grew older, and now there's hardly anything she's willing to eat, especially after Liv puts her on a quack gluten-free/casein-free diet.
- The Stakeout: Will and Sandy sit in a car outside the offices, waiting for the thief to show up. Sandy gives up after the cleaning lady Erika (Caroline Chikezie) spots them and yells at them for spying on her, but Will keeps it up until he spots Miro.
- Taking the Kids: When Bea was very young, she and Liv moved from Sweden to England, leaving her father behind.