The Good Thief Review

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Bob is on a downward spiral - he's out of luck, love, drugs and cash. And so he decides to pull off one last casino heist, although the target isn't money but a collection of priceless paintings kept in a vault. A whisper of betrayal, however, could bring the cops crashing down on him.


Neil Jordan's remake of Jean-Pierre Melville's Bob Le Flambeur has one thing going for it: a ragged, shabby, but hugely charismatic performance by Nick Nolte as a down-on-his-luck gentleman thief. However, even Nolte's heroic efforts aren't enough too pull the rest of the movie into a coherent shape.

The French Riviera setting seems incidental, except for the fact that it brings a rich ethnic mix to Bob's crime world connections. In fact, Jordan seems barely interested in the heist plot, drawn instead to the central character's dubious morality and potential for redemption (see The Crying Game and Mona Lisa for further details).

Nolte plays it like it is, like a man who has indeed gone twelve rounds with some or other addiction earlier in his life. When Bob is hitting the heroin, Nolte sounds like a man barely conscious - Tom Waits with the world's worst hangover. If only there was a movie here that was worthy of the character and the performance.

The film is all over the place, and the heist plot seems alternately inconsequential and confusing. But Nolte is on brilliant form.