The Good Thief

"Excellent"

The Good Thief Review


The heist movie, or robbery movie, has worn out its welcome in recent years. There's nothing more infuriating than feeling as though you're five steps ahead of the film, with no pleasure found in connecting the dots. The Good Thief doesn't really have anything new to add to the genre besides a sense of style. It's as though visionary filmmaker Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, The Company of Wolves) read the script, accepted it as a simplistic morality tale of an aging crook, and pumped up the sumptuous visuals, the seeps-into-your-bones soundtrack of global music, and the iconic figure of Nick Nolte. Those elements single handedly give The Good Thief a sense of purpose when it would otherwise have none, and the stylistic flourishes -- instead of feeling like they're present for their own sake -- add depth to what could have been another boring movie about doublecrossing.

Whenever the plot of the movie feels rote (the thieves assemble their team, plan the robbery, carry out the robbery, and doublecross each other a couple of times along the way) the arresting images carry the day. Cinematographer Chris Menges (who recently shot another existential mystery, The Pledge) finds the right pace: active yet unhurried, kinetic yet wistful. With shadows that turn into lush purples, greens, blues, and all gradations of black, The Good Thief is intoxicating. Indeed, it might be Jordan's most visually stimulating movie, and one has to wonder if the cookie cutter nature of the script set him free to imagine new visual possibilities. Lovers of the visual image will find much to appreciate; plot-driven viewers will find very little to hang their hat on.

The title character's name is Bob Montagnet, based on a character from Jean-Pierre Melville's Bob le Flambeur. Forget the fact that it's a completely unnecessary remake of a perfectly calibrated noir. Pretend instead it's an excuse for Nick Nolte to inhabit the shaggy, romantic, worn out shell of Bob, a part he's tailor-made for. Playing a down and out American expatriate gambler, strung out on heroin in the early going and planning his Last Great Heist by the film's midpoint, Nolte gives another effortlessly honest performance. His lined face and experienced eyes show a life truly lived. (And let's avoid commentary on his true life troubles, which are more for the gossip columnists. Nolte's a consummate actor, not a freak show.)

Even as the movie goes through the motions of Bob evading a good natured French cop (an amused Tchéky Karyo), tentatively building a May-December relationship with a troubled young girl (the charming and self-aware Nutsa Kukhianidze), and assembling his crew (including filmmakers like the riotous Emir Kustarica and the identical Polish Brothers who made Twin Falls Idaho), it's the Nick Nolte show. Smoking cigarettes, rolling through scenes with self-mocking, hard-boiled irony, Nolte has a presence that can jump start a weak movie (Breakfast of Champions), anchor pretentious art films (Affliction) and bring added layers of depth to great ones (Mother Night and Afterglow).

Nolte's not exactly coasting through The Good Thief, any more than Jordan and Menges are, but he's bringing something special to what could've been a hackneyed and obvious genre flick. That he's accompanied by the woeful ballad "A Thousand Kisses Deep" by gravel voiced Leonard Cohen is both apropos and maybe too on the mark. Cohen seems like the voice of Nolte's wounded lion, a doomed romantic. As Cohen says, "And maybe I had miles to drive / And promises to keep / You ditch it all to stay alive..." It's deeply poignant even as it errs on being as plain as the nose on your face. Kind of like the rest of The Good Thief, a flawed but precious movie worth caring about, writing about, and thinking about.

Neil Jordan offers a commentary on The Good Thief DVD, plus a handful of deleted scenes.

I'll take one too.



The Good Thief

Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 28th February 2003

Box Office USA: $3.4M

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Production compaines: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Alliance Atlantis Communications, Metropolitan Films, TNVO

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 110 Rotten: 32

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Bob Montagnet, as Roger, as Anne, as Remi, as Paulo, as Raoul, as Said, Patricia Kell as Yvonne, Julien Maurel as Philippe, as Vladimir, as Tony Angel, Roland Munter as Kozinski, as Albert, as Bertram, James Quattrochi as Jamie

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.