Film Review: Neil Jordan proves to be 'Good Thief' with remake

    “”The Good Thief,”” a remake of Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1955 “”Bob Le Flambeur,”” is the story of Bob Monagnet (Nick Nolte), a veteran gambler/junkie on a losing streak in Nice, France. He saves the life of a detective, Roger (Tcheky Karyo), who unsuccessfully and blunderingly chases him throughout the film, and meets Anne (Nutsa Kukhianidze), a sexy 17-year-old prostitute/junkie, whom Bob takes in to save from her lifestyle. An old colleague of Bob’s, Raoul (Gerard Darmon), proposes a massive casino heist in Monte Carlo, and in hopes of changing his luck, Bob detoxes off junk by handcuffing himself to the bed for three days because, as he later decrees, “”gambling and dope don’t mix.””

    Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

    The plan has two aspects — one, to be leaked to authorities by a “”Judas”” from the heist crew, in which they are to steal priceless works of art from an elaborate casino vault, and the other, to be secretly executed, in which they steal money from the casino safe. Paulo (Said Taghmaoui), Bob’s errand boy, complicates things with his feelings for Anne, who is getting drugs from Said (Ouassini Embarek), a shifty, informant and dealer.

    The elaborate web of colorful characters acting according to their own motives is exactly what Bob counts on in his big gamble.

    Nolte shines brighter than ever in this role, aided especially by his on-screen chemistry with both Karyo, the quirky cop, and Kukhianidze, the seductive damsel in distress. Nolte makes the character of Bob strangely loveable in his demise. Bob does not make any promises to reform after this caper or pretend to not love the lifestyle of the big gamble.

    He loves to tell the story of his successful bet on a bullfight with Pablo Picasso, whom he looks up to as the greatest thief ever, stealing from other artists to achieve his signature style of cubism. Bob sees gambling as an art, and the connection to art is made even clearer by Chris Menges’ stylistic freeze-frame camera work and picturesque depiction of the Monte Carlo landscape.

    Neil Jordan’s remake of “”The Good Thief”” is an all-around enjoyable movie-going experience with a great soundtrack, including Leonard Cohen and Bono. Its only drawback is its modern relevance since it seems only a great escape, but that is why we go to the movies after all.

    The Good Thief

    ****

    Starring Nick Nolte and Nutsa Kukhianidze

    In theaters April 11

    Rated R

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