The Good Thief (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/03/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Stylish remake with a (safe-)cracking performance by Nolte, it’s like an arthouse version of Ocean’s Eleven.

Neil Jordan is one of those directors whose output could charitably be described as “patchy”. When he’s good (Mona Lisa, The Company of Wolves, The Crying Game) he’s very good, but when he’s bad (In Dreams, We’re No Angels) he brings new meaning to the word.

Happily, then, The Good Thief is one of his “good” movies. Even more happily, it stars Nick Nolte on career-best form, which is somehow fitting for a film about gambling, because his career has also had its share of ups and downs.

Gambling And Heroin

The film is set on the French Riviera. Nolte plays Bob, a shabby, down-on-his-luck gentleman thief, addicted to both heroin and gambling. An immensely charismatic individual, Bob is surrounded by loyal and adoring friends, including Paulo (Said Taghmaoui) and Anne (Nutsa Kukhiandze), a Russian girl he rescues from prostitution.

In desperate need of some cash to pay off his debts (not least to Ralph Fiennes’ scumbag of an art dealer / gangster), Bob agrees to that old plot device, the ever-faithful One Last Heist and they plan to hit the Monte Carlo casino on the night of the Grand Prix. But will they pull it off?

A remake of Jean-Pierre Melville’s classic French heist flick Bob Le Flambeur (Bob The Gambler), The Good Thief is an enjoyably stylish film that doesn’t always do what you expect (for example, in the relationship between Anne and Bob). It’s impeccably cast and the characters (including Tchecky Karo’s sympathetic, almost paternal police detective Roger and the weird twins from Twin Falls Idaho as rival heist-planners) are all well drawn and likeable.

Career Best From Nolte

The performances are excellent, too, with Nolte on career best form and clearly enjoying himself into the bargain. Ralph Fiennes is also excellent – his role may be little more than a cameo but his five minutes of rage here more than make up for the horrors of his performance in Maid in Manhattan.

Nolte isn’t the only one having a good time – Jordan pulls out all the directorial stops and uses split-screen and a variety of other tricks to make sure that this ticks along nicely. There’s also a superb soundtrack that considerably ups the ‘cool’ factor.

In short, this is worth watching for Nolte’s brilliant performance and for its sheer sense of style. Recommended.

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Content updated: 19/11/2017 19:57

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