THE GOOD THIEF
Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Nick Nolte, Tcheky Karyo, Said Taghmaoui, Emir Kusturica, Ouassini
Embarek, Nutsa Kukhianidze
Director: Neil Jordan
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 109 Minutes
Release Date: August 19, 2003
play the game to the limit. Damn the consequences.Ē
Seeing the type of
character that Nick Nolte plays in The
Good Thief, you may find yourself thinking that life may have imitated art
for the actor. Nolteís character is one that is indeed down on his luck. Once
declared a master thief at the top of his game, he now finds himself as low as
he could ever fall, gambling frequently in the same areas as drug dealing and
prostitution. Notleís character also happens to currently be as substance
abuser, something that may have well followed the actor all the way to his
unfortunate arrest last year. But the high point in The Good Thief is watching the character slowly rise up from
depravity and back to his heisting roots.
Set in ever so
beautiful French Riviera, Neil Jordanís film is a superb character study, with
a sharp touch of a heist movie. Nolte plays Bob Fontana, the son of an American
father and a French mother, who at the beginning of the film is all hopped up on
heroin and losing another instance of luck during a sour card game. The sound of
his graveled voice alone suggests a man whoís only so close from the edge.
After too many losses and nearly no coin to his name, Bob forces himself into a
quick detox, as he cuffs himself to a bed and eating only ice cream, a process
that feels slow and painful.
When back on his
feet, Bob considers taking up a heist of ultra-complexity, and taking place in
none other than a casino in Monte Carlo. Bob intends not to steal the money, but
to steal the paintings that lie within the casino. He then assigns a limited,
but distinct crew, and goes to work on the plans. The only thorn in Bobís side
is that of a persuasive cop (Tcheky Karyo), who always seems to be on Bobís
tail at every turn.
If it sounds as if
Iíve given the notion that The Good
Thief is a heist movie, Iíve misled you. The heist is only about ten
percent of the actual story, as the film is very much a character study at
heart, surrounding Nolteís character from rock bottom to back at the top where
he once was at a criminal, but extremely slick profession, and as we can see by
the end of the film, Bob Fontana is all about slickness.
My opinion of Nick
Nolte has always remained the same. He either succeeds greatly at bringing a
character to life, or has a tendency to overplay his roles, as clearly
demonstrated in the recent Hulk. With The
Good Thief, Nolte is at the top of his game, bringing a sharp, uniquely
complex character to life with strong power and conviction. Neil Jordan is a
director who has a knack for lush style, and he applies this film with memorable
shots and set pieces.
Good Thief is quite a
terrific character piece, complete with a sharp, persistent plot and memorable
characters to boot.
This movie is based on the classic French film Bob le Flambeur.
Fox has issued
quite an eye gazing transfer for this film, enhancing the much beautiful scenery
of France and all its inner settings. The anamorphic picture (a full frame
version is also included) is in every way flawless. There are an equal amount of
day and night shots, both of which display terrifically. There are also a few
added bonuses, like a scene inside a darkened studio which is laced a blue neon
light, which is really a sight for the eyes. Terrific marks all the way.
Itís needless to
say that a character piece is relied heavily on dialogue, but Fox manages to
keep up the juice with a nifty 5.1 track. The dialogue is, of course, delivered
as strong as can be. In addition, notable background action, including music
playback in numerous club scenes, and surrounding crowd noise pay off well, too.
The basic feats are
at hand here, including a commentary track by Neil Jordan, deleted scenes with
optional commentary, and a six minute making of featurette.