The Good Thief
The full weight of age and
self-abuse weigh in Nick Nolte's eyes, face and body as a past-his-prime
gambler-con man who is seeing out his hard knock life in the seamier areas
of Nice, on the French Riviera. His character, Bob Montagnet, is a heroin addict
(Nolte claimed to have used the drug to get the true nature of the
character) and in the middle of a spiraling losing streak. But, Bob is
genuinely a good man, so much so that a French policeman (Tcheky Karyo)
wants to stop Bob from getting involved in a caper to rob a casino in Monte
Carlo, not just to save the casino... but to save Bob from himself.
Bob does get talked into heading up the caper, and he goes through a
harrowing detoxification from the drugs. A sober Bob becomes something
of an anomaly... a hardened criminal type with a twelve-step mentality.
He sees a fellow lost soul in a seventeen-year-old Russian runaway turned
First time actress Nutsa Kukhianidze is
fantastic as Anne, perhaps the most trusting (or naive) prostitute in film history.
It's a nice
detail (and one that goes totally against the Hollywood grain) that even
though the girl repeatedly throws herself at the hardened old crook, Bob's feelings
towards her seem parental, or those of a mentor, rather than sexual.
What follows is
a series of crosses and double-crosses and quirky accessories (sometimes
excessively quirky, one of the people on the job has had a sex change, but
there seems no real good reason for that in the story other than to make him
afraid of spiders.) Bob runs across art forgers, eccentric security
people, jealous lovers, shady club owners, criminal identical twins and loan
sharks as the caper whiplashes back and forth.
Part of the fun of the
film is that in the end, whether or not the robbery is successfully
completed almost becomes of secondary importance. The supporting cast (particularly Karyo and
Kukhianidze) is terrific, but the film is really a showcase for Nolte.
doesn't disappoint, delivering his best performance since Affliction
The Good Thief is also further proof that writer/director Neil Jordan
should stay far from Hollywood. In Europe, he has made such sparse
classics as The Crying Game and Mona Lisa, but everytime
Hollywood tries to tame him it ends up with overblown hokum like
Interview With the Vampire, In Dreams and High Spirits.
The Good Thief is a tonic for Jordan's... and Nolte's... careers and more importantly, it's a
good, bracing adventure picture.
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Posted: May 18, 2003.