BREAKING IN - An experienced burglar takes on a young apprentice, and they share various misadventures. Burt Reynolds and Casey Siemaszko give relaxed, likable performances in the comedy. But the speciality of director Bill Forsyth, as he showed best in his brilliant ``Local Hero,'' is to pepper a conventional plot with offbeat details and revealing nuances that raise the ordinary to amazingly expressive heights. Unfortunately, he works little of this magic with John Sayles's screenplay here. The results are diverting but very minor. (Rated R) STORY OF WOMEN - French drama based on the true story of a woman who performed illegal abortions during the World War II period, and became one of the last French women put to death by guillotine. Directed by the renowned ``new wave'' filmmaker Claude Chabrol, who gives the tale surprising complexity by sympathizing with the main character yet refusing to whitewash her less attractive traits. Lending more depth are resonances between the plot, its wartime background, and the tangled web of French/Nazi collaboration and resistance. Isabelle Huppert plays the leading role with her usual subtlety. (Not rated)

WHEN THE WHALES CAME - On an island off the coast of England, two children befriend an old hermit who used to live on another island that's now felt to be cursed. They learn various life-lessons from him, and from the whales of the title, which represent the gifts of nature that humans don't appreciate enough. Like the story, the performances are earnest, picturesque, well-meaning, and rather dull. The scenery, though, is lovely. Directed by Clive Rees. (Rated PG)

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