The Good Thief (2002)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Good Thief</strong> (2002)

(In theaters, May 2003) There’s really only one good reason to see this film, and it’s Nick Nolte’s lead performance as he transforms himself from a frumpy tired junkie loser to a high-rolling gambler with the world in his hand. It’s a great role, and one that few other actors than Nolte would have the required presence to achieve. Otherwise, well, the film isn’t nearly as compelling. Tchéky Karyo and the beautiful Cote d’Azure setting are good points, but they do little to compensate for the rest of this pointless film. The beginning is particularly laborious, as its meticulously paints the sordid Euro-trash existence of the lead protagonist. It’s only after he hits rock-bottom and has to plan ahead for One More Score that the film acquires any dramatic inertia. If you can forget about Nutsa Kukhianidze’s horrid performance as the mumbling, somnolent heroine (Hey, I know she’s supposed to be a Russian girl, but she can’t even be bothered to mumble properly!) the middle part of the film very slowly builds to a casino heist caper that promises a good time. But the film loses it in the last third, as three different operations take place at the same time without much relationship to one another, leading to a sentiment of diffuse dissatisfaction. Luck, not plotting, shapes the ending, leading to a supremely ironic finale that doesn’t quite know what to make of itself. See it for Nick Nolte, maybe, but don’t go looking for a good story in there.

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