Film review – The Good Thief (2002)

Director Neil Jordan’s (The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire) latest film is a remake of the 1955 French classic Bob le Flambeur about a struggling career gambler who returns to his previous occupation as a mastermind thief. With its slick camera work, eccentric characters and suitably tense moments, The Good Thief is akin to light hearted heist films such as the remake of Ocean’s Eleven, with occasional darker moments.

Looking suitably dishevelled, Nick Nolte growls and mumbles his way through the film as Bob the charismatic gambler. Tcheky Karyo is engaging as a sympathetic cop while new comer Nana Djordjadze (who bares an uncanny resemblance to the actor from the original film) gives an offbeat yet striking performance as Anna, the enigmatic 17 year old who Bob feels compelled to take care of. Unfortunately Jordan is not so honourable and obsessively films her in various states of undress, disturbingly reducing her to a pre-pubescent fantasy.

Like other Jordan films, editing is significant problem. Complete with gratuitously annoying strobe effects and freeze frames, the editing rushes through scenes so quickly that major characters and themes frantically flash by and are inadequately developed. The Good Thief never achieves the level of sophistication that it aspires to but it is nevertheless a mostly enjoyable distraction with art house pretensions.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 182, 2003

© Thomas Caldwell, 2003