To Steal From A Thief

***

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

To Steal From A Thief
"This film does much well but little new."

A twisting heist thriller, Cien Años De Perdón (properly something like "100 Years Of Forgiving") manages successive complications and revelations to create a compelling study of the consequences of both avarice and incompetence, both individual and systemic.

In Valencia a team lead by The Uruguyan are taking a bank. A bank in a state of crisis; personnel are being let go. It's a grey day, and outside too - the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plot.

It isn't a first visit to crime/action for either writer Jorge Guerrero or director Daniel Calparsoro, nor for Luis Tosara and Rodrigo De La Serna as the most forceful of the gang and the Uruguyan who has assembled it. Joaquin Furriel's 'Loco' has been added as a favour, and as in most such endeavours that act of generosity will have consequences - as does the cooperation of Patricia Vico's bank manager, who exchanges information for material reward.

Some crime in translation does well from being one of those 'reading movies', the distance of subtitle can add to flattened affect, alienation - Jar City does this - some does less well, finding issues with discovery, the transcription of the colloquial. Some have enough drive to push past this - Fast Convoy - and some don't. Big Thieves, Little Thieves is one of them. Title in translation is a particular bugbear, and To Steal From A Thief isn't the worst - indeed, it's a concept that's mentioned within the film but the allusion is left hanging, elided, an ellipsis in and among elliptical plotting, loops that get deeper.

There are easy comparisons to Spike Lee's Inside Man, a film in which a charismatic robber has as his focus a safety deposit box, and similarly there is within the film an exploration of the corridors of power, of high crimes and misdemeanours. There are some neat flourishes, the use of text messaging in particular, but it is older technologies that bring the real complications - that rain brings real pressure to the situation. Comparisons to Inside Man leave this film trailing, however, and that's a shame - the heist movie is a sufficiently well-trod furrow that films that do not break free can become bogged down, and for all its competence within genre this film does much well but little new. It is enjoyable nonetheless, but for all that gold glisters and this picture in places sparkles, time is money and yours may be better spent elsewhere.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2016
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Crime thriller set against the backdrop of Spain's economic collapse.

Festivals:

EIFF 2016
SSFF 2016

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