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The Good Thief (2003)
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Review Date: April 25, 2003
Director: Neil Jordan
Writer: Neil Jordan
Producers: Seaton McLean, John Wells, Stephen Woolley
Actors:
Nick Nolte as Bob
Tchéky Karyo as Roger
Nutsa Kukhianidze as Anne
Plot:
An old-school American thief living in the South of France hits rock bottom, saves a local prostitute and must now figure out how to get over his own heroin addiction and money woes. For the former, he ties himself up to a bed for three days and for the latter, well...he sets up a heist of the Monte Carlo casino the night before the big Grand Prix race. Thieving ensues.
Critique:
A decent "heist" flick with a good balance of character development and crime intricacies to make for an enjoyable watch for anyone looking to score some "Nolte" for the night. There's nothing here that will likely overwhelm anyone in terms of originality or creative drive (an aging thief wants to hit one last score with his rag-tag team of associates as a local, somewhat sympathetic, cop tails his every move), but I'm a fan of the Nolte and considering his most recent personal exploits, it's doubly interesting to see him playing a past-his-prime junkie giving it his all (during a Toronto Film Festival press conference, he apparently said that he took a little heroin every day during this shoot "just to get in the mood"). I'm not going to pretend that I understood every word that came out of the man's mouth in this movie (although his gruff voice made his character all the more believable), but Nolte is all about attitude and he's got plenty of that here, as he drinks, shoots, swears and plans his way through an ingenious pitch to rip off the Monte Carlo casino. Which brings me to another strong point in the film and that being the actual locations in the South of France. Gorgeous. Tagging alongside Nolte as he smoked his way through the French Riviera made this standard story that much more engaging, especially when stapled to seedy underground scenarios, a speedy pace (maybe a little too speedy) and a handful of partners, good and bad. A subplot involving a local prostitute which Nolte befriends also added some mustard to the dressing, but I can't say that much about this lucky lady impressed me at all. For one, the actress, Nutsa Kukhianidze, had a monotone voice and delivery, that made almost every single one of her scenes feel like they were part of the rehearsal process, and for two, we weren't really ever given a center for her character's appeal to almost every single male in the story. She wasn't exactly the "cat's meow", if you know what I mean (sweet ass though), although she did admittedly emit a decent amount of chemistry with Nolte.

The cameo appearance by Ralph Fiennes was also fun (although more of him would have been nice), as were many of Nolte's right-hand men, all of whom felt real and fulfilled the film's secondary calling. A couple of bits that I could have done without here included the annoying freeze-frames that director Jordan seemed to randomly insert at the end of certain scenes (bothered me), as well as the way a local pimp just happened to fall upon a certain piece of information nearing the end of the film (felt contrived). Other than that, I enjoyed Nolte's performance the best and for anyone who appreciates a feel-good ending, I can't say that I remember a movie finishing as idyllically as this one ultimately concludes here. Being a fan of gambling movies, the finale also brought forth some tense betting moments, all of which made me feel like hopping on the nearest plane and dropping my sorry ass on the Las Vegas strip asap, but alas, the website, the lack of funds, etc and so forth. So in the end, even though this film didn't necessarily bring anything new or outstanding to the table, it did front a cool setting, a formidable performance by Nolte, some decent chemistry and a fulfilling conclusion. If you've hit "rock bottom" and want to relate to someone who's also hit the bottom rung without resorting to self-pity or murder just yet (although he does listen to plenty of Leonard Cohen music...natch!), slip into this old thief and enjoy it for its adult drama and bad guy antics. Also, despite not fully understanding a handful of Nolte's utterances, I did enjoy his retort to a line delivered by one of his friends: "Remember the 80s?"...Nolte's reply, "No!"
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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