The Good Thief

The Good Thief


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

He's a junkie, a drinker, a smoker, a gambler. "You look good for your age," the 17-year-old Russian hooker lies. "What age is that?" he retorts. "Stone age," she quips.

His name is Bob and he's played by Nick Nolte, who has cornered the market in washed out Hemingway heroes, who look like hell, but have deeply held principals lurking beneath the wreckage of a life badly lived.

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This could be Marseilles. There are Arabs and French and the odd dodgy foreigner, such as Bob, inhabiting the bars. Every cliché of the genre is here.

Writer/director Neil Jordan is a big softie. The Crying Game was awash with pathos and Mona Lisa, which had Bob Hoskins falling in love with a young black prostitute, was a teardrop away from the molasses pit. The Good Thief comes from the same stable - old guy, young girl, respect, sexual frisson - sharing a common cause, the protection of the innocent.

Of course, there has to be a story to disguise the sentimental core and it centres around yet another attempt at stealing the priceless from the impregnable. The venue for The Thomas Crown Snr Affair is a casino in Monte Carlo, the night before Grand Prix - or rather a building nearby, containing Impressionist paintings, the copies of which hang on the walls of the casino.

Bob is being tailed by his old pal, the chief of police (Tcheky Karyo), who is given the slip at every opportunity - what do you expect? The plan for the heist is probably too clever, or possibly poorly explained. Either way, it's baffling.

Nolte's gravely performance dominates. Undoubtedly self-indulgent, he caricatures the grizzled ex-pat who makes no apology for his addictions. He's not running on empty, so much as slipping into an old routine. The only freshness comes from Nutsa Kukhanidze, as the girl. Her youth and vitality helps to ease a feeling of jaded romanticism, but she's not important enough to lift the film out of its rut.

Reviewed on: 05 Mar 2003
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Nick Nolte, as a junkie gambler from the old school, organises an art heist in Monte Carlo.
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Director: Neil Jordan

Writer: Neil Jordan

Starring: Nick Nolte, Tcheky Karyo, Said Taghmaoui, Gerard Darmon, Emir Kusturica, Nutsa Kukhanidze, Marc Lavoine, Mark Polish, Michael Polish

Year: 2002

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK/France/Canada/Ireland


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