"The Good Thief"
Directed by Neil Jordan ("The Crying Game").
Written by Neil Jordan. Based on the 1955 film "Bob le
Starring Nick Nolte, Tcheky Karyo, Ralph Fiennes and Nutsa
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 4/21/03
After coming out of the screening here for
“The Good Thief”, the new film from the man that brought us “The
Crying Game”, I asked my friend Laura a quick question:
“How old is Nick Nolte? 100?”
And, as old as one of America’s greatest
fogies is, he is fantastic in “The Good Thief” as Bob, aging
gambler, recovering addict & alcoholic, and retired master art
thief. Based on the 1955 French film “Bob Le Flambeur” (Bob the
Gambler), “The Good Thief” follows Bob as he sets up one last big
score in Monte Carlo as a way to recover some debt and get out of
the business for good. Hot on his trail is a cop (the always great
French vet Tcheky Karyo) and on Bob’s right arm is a 17-year-old
“hostess” (newcomer Nutsa Kukhianidze) that is looking for some
guidance from the gambling old-timer.
Director Neil Jordan’s film starts off a bit
slowly, but it then settles into a really comfortable pace as we
follow Bob around France as he tries to organize a crew for the
score, learn details about the casino that needs to be robbed and
lets us hang out with him as he tries to elude the cops in pursuit
of his plan. Most of this comes off so well for two reasons. The
first is Nolte, who really does seem to be getting better at this
whole acting thing as he has gotten older; although I do still love
his parts in films like “48 Hours”, something about his bits in
“Affliction” and his part here in “The Good Thief” seem to really be
acting, and not just sounding gruff while yelling all the time.
Although I don’t know the man, he does charming really well here and
a scene where he dupes the cop into believing that his mother past
away in a field near where the cop has wrecked his car is very
believable because Nolte comes off so damned well. You like this
guy, even if he abuses the bottle at every turn and is a career
The second thing that the film does so well
is pace its dialogue; Jordan’s script calls for lines that come very
close together, which makes things a bit hard in the early going
because you might miss some of the lines because they come at such a
rapid clip. But, Nolte and the other actors make this interplay
look real without looking too “scripted”, like you get sometimes in
a David Mamet film like “Heist”, where the lines come very close
together but they just feel like someone wouldn’t have the
intelligence to string together such great lyrical poetry with a gun
pointed to their head.
The beautiful settings for the
films--slyly-lit interiors, beautiful French countrysides and of
course, Monte Carlo at night--make for some pretty sweet eye candy
throughout the film, and the great twist with the cinematography is
that the actors in the film are a fairly unattractive lot...which
makes the film all the cooler for not loading up on models and
Adonis-types. A great ending rounds off the experience.
Again, “The Good Thief” does start off a bit
slow, but what follows is some of the best stuff of the year.
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard