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THE GOOD THIEF

An American gambler who has sunk to shooting heroin in the men’s room of a dive in Nice is suddenly presented with the opportunity of shaping up and pulling off a heist at a Monte Carlo casino.


CAST: Nick Nolte, Nutsa Kukhianidze, Ralph Fiennes, Tcheky Karyo, Emir Kusturica, Jason Flemyng, Gerard Damon, Ouassini Embarek, Nino Kukhanidze, Marc Lavoine, James Quatroch, Said Taghmanoui

DIRECTOR: Neil Jordan

"Nick Nolte can be utterly convincing playing both dissolute wrecks who pull out their rotting teeth (‘Affliction’) and pomaded captains of industry in black tie and tails from the world of Henry James (‘The Golden Bowl’). His characters are never clear-cut, though: The wrecks have their existential graces, and the captains are often clouded by regret. In Neil Jordan’s ‘The Good Thief,’ Nolte gets to play someone who is both a lowlife and a natural-born aristocrat. And more than ever he makes it clear how thin the dividing line is between the two…At times, ‘The Good Thief’ is like a fashion show of swank, outré imagery, and all this froufrou slows down the pleasures of the heist…All this dazzle would normally sink a movie of this kind, just as it sank ‘Ocean’s Eleven,’ but fortunately there’s also Nolte’s ravaged flamboyance. He may seem to lurch through the landscape, but he’s surprisingly light on his feet. This actor is comfortable in his rough hide…Bob is a marvelous creation—a faker who is also the genuine article. He’s the perfect hero for a movie about the world as one big scam." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"Whether he's staggering through the mean streets of Nice or swaggering through the casinos of Monte Carlo, Nick Nolte is in a great form as the garrulous Bob Montagnet, a gone-to-seed master thief and compulsive gambler who rouses himself to attempt one last heist in Neil Jordan's sensationally enjoyable neo-noir crime drama. It's billed as a remake of Jean-Pierre Melville's classic ‘Bob le Flambeur,’ but it's really more of a jazzy-bluesy riff on the 1955 film's hard-boiled romantic notions of grace under pressure and honor among thieves." --Joe Leydon, The San Francisco Examiner

"Nolte’s grave performance combines a devil-may-care attitude with existential blues…This dissolute yet charming man reveals weakness and ambition—the human traits that have always animated Jordan’s storytelling…Most of all, ‘The Good Thief’ shows Jordan’s sympathy for human folly to be generous, insightful, visionary. He’s not just repeating genre; he’s pursuing human truth. Working again with the great cinematographer Chris Menges, Jordan reminds you how wondrous movies can look…It’s the first color noir movie I can think of that rivals the emotional subtlety of black and white…‘The Good Thief’ holds attention agreeably but it’s also just plain dazzling to look at. At last! The movie year has been jumpstarted." --Armond White, New York Press

"Promising as it seems in theory, everything in this new version, like Lena Lamont's image in ‘Singin' in the Rain,’ falls apart as soon as the talking starts. The problem is unconvincingly romanticized dialogue joined to artificial delivery. Everyone from Nolte's Bob Montagnet on down can't help but trip over the film's fake-hip, pleased-with-itself banter. It's a painfully artificial world drowning in world-weary cynicism, where attitude easily wins out over heroin as the hipster's drug of choice…The film overplays its hand, self-consciously pushing artifice past the point of phoniness…Biggest offender in this department is star Nolte, who's been encouraged to blowzily overact in a way that is almost painful. With his trademark whisky voice sounding close to whiny, Nolte's Bob affects a strained casualness that couldn't be less convincing…this kind of puerile romanticism doesn't do anybody any good." --Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

"Oscar-winner Neil Jordan ('The Crying Game') loads his smart, entertaining heist movie with sexual tension and places it squarely on Nick Nolte's capable shoulders. The two-time Oscar nominee delivers a shambling, sweet-natured performance as Bob, an aging American gambler and thief living in Nice, France. Inspired by the French crime classic Bob Le Flambeur, the thriller involves Bob's plans for one last elaborate score while he tries -- and fails -- to resist the advances of a much younger heroine (hot gamine Nutsa Kukhianidze) and the allure of his old demon--heroin." --Thelma Adams, US Weekly

"It's a triumph of flourish, all weathered, movie-star-size gestures…By setting the picture on the impossibly gorgeous Riviera and using shades of blue as visual metaphors, Mr. Jordan, working with the cinematographer Chris Menges, makes the film's look exemplary: it combines American flamboyance and French existentialist delirium…Mr. Nolte uses ‘The Good Thief’ as a haven for a majestic ruin he has worked at for years. It's quite an accomplishment. There aren't many American actors who have made a penchant for self-destructive behavior blossom into a fully realized gallery of performances…The movie is the ultimate caper, a work of brazen ebullience." --Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

"Neil Jordan's reinvention of Jean- Pierre Melville's 1955 chestnut ‘Bob le Flambeur’ is a much more interesting time-waster than was Stephen Soderbergh's ‘Ocean's 11.’ Retitled ‘The Good Thief’ and retailored to the ravaged glamour of Nick Nolte, this one is thick with seamy Riviera atmosphere, seductive scoring from ‘Frida’ Oscar-winner Elliot Goldenthal and jazzy cinematography by Chris Menges that evokes the glory days of French cinema's New Wave. It pulses with erudition and visual kicks, but has the dulled impact of a time-sensitive bottled message that has washed ashore years too late to be of any practical use…The crime itself lacks the deftness of the great heist movies, in part because the actors are never as colorful as the writing wants them to be. The biggest culprits are the two respiration-challenged romantic leads: Nolte heaves every line as if its his last, while the sullenly nasal Kukhianidze sounds like a ventriloquist is throwing his voice through her nose. While we're on the subject, has anyone else had it with beautiful young women flinging themselves at dissipating male movie stars, or is it just me?" --Jan Stuart, Newsday

"Nick Nolte's DWI arrest may have been fodder for Steve Martin's monologue at the Oscars--but the troubled actor is at the absolute top of his game in Neil Jordan's ‘The Good Thief,’ a casino heist movie so smooth and satisfying it makes the similar ‘Ocean's Eleven’ look like a game of three-card monte…Though the setup is familiar in an overworked genre, Jordan pulls it off effortlessly--it's easily his best directing job since ‘The Crying Game’ …it's a special triumph for Nolte, a magnificent ruin of a man who jabbers nonstop in a rumbling bass and sports one of the worst dye jobs this side of Miami Beach--making Jack Nicholson in ‘About Schmidt’ look positively vain by comparison…the year's first must-see movie." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"With his haggard good looks and bearish presence, Nolte is the main event in this colorful three-ring circus of a heist picture… Jordan has made movies in many genres and styles, but seems most comfortable in the demimondes of ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘The Crying Game’ -- in other words, among men like Bob, who follow their hearts even up blind alleys, trusting in luck all the way." --Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News