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Dir Neil Jordan
starring : Kathleen McClellan, Nick Nolte, Nutsa Kukhiani, Ralph Fiennes, Tcheky Karyo

Irish film director Neil Jordan is not renowned for either his sense of humour or his lightness of touch. He is world famous for his ability to fool most of the people most of the time with the identity games with which he plays fast and loose in such films as THE CRYING GAME. His deceitful ways can be most aggravating, and self-defeating.
Yet his latest "mystery" about the human condition THE GOOD THIEF is the loosest and most relaxed of his film accomplishments.

A classic ‘final big heist’ crime caper it is taken from a French original BOB LE FLAMBEUR and set on the French Riviera and in Monte Carlo where a gang of thieves led by Bob Montana ( Nick Nolte ) hope to steal an almost priceless world-class art collection from under the very noses of the owners of a highly suspicious Japanese owned luxury casino. The film subtly elucidates the idea that all men - even the great painters - were thieves who stole from the best; and of course Jordan is doing this exact thing throughout THE GOOD THIEF; playing upon our memories of caper and heist movies with verve and a generous acknowledgement that he is following in the footsteps of masters of this genre.

Bob is a recovering heroin addict and a gambling fanatic. Something of a legend in his criminal milieu he has reached a turning point in his life struggling to be all things to all men, taking young misfits under his wing, keeping his cop nemesis Roger ( Tcheky Karyo) at arm’s length and devising a robbery scheme that is far more intricate and multi-leveled than any devised for the movies before. The usual tragic implications of this film formula are made clear yet all the characters slip past the fates that would normally await them .After all they are ‘good’ thieves who enjoy their energetic and intellectually challenging profession as much as they crave the loot. It is the idea of winning that motivates Bob and that keeps him in the game.His cronies know that one of these days he’s going to hit the big time- like breaking the bank at Monte Carlo.

In a role he has been getting ready for all of his career Nick Nolte absolutely captures the world-weary but boyish Bob – a burn-out at the track and at the card-table, a physical wreck due to his substance-abuse- he is a man totally convinced that his luck will turn, if only he keeps playing the game according to his own idiosyncratic rules of honour and crafty insight. A figure not all that different I daresay than the film’s director Neil Jordan himself who has taken his lumps with big Hollywood screw-ups and bounced back hoping to regain his title.

© Alex Grant April 2003

(We wish Alex a speedy recovery after narrowly avoiding death recently in a hit and run accident with a car.)

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