The Good Thief starring Nick Nolte is a mildly electrifying heist film that accurately comes off as an elegant, sensitive and emotive venture. Director Neil Jordan set about the ambitious task of recreating a film that requires precise and flawless vision, and it resulted in an impeccable and distinctive plot that differed a great deal from the classic capers that preceded it. The film is a remake of the infamous 1955 French original namely 'Bob Le Flambeur' directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. It is set in the quaint little town of Nice, on the French Riviera where the seedy underworld plots to secure an 80 million prize housed by an upscale casino.
The lead character, Bob Montagnet, played by Nolte is an admirable and charismatic wreck tormented by his staus as a junkie. The tale begins with Bob moving readily through the ranks of crime and drugs using his persuasive charm and alluring personality to gain the better part of the stick in all his dealings. His qualities and principles are credible, with an example of him saving the fate of a young anguished teenage girl, Anne(Nutsa Kukhianidze), whom he views as a divine intervention.
His rendezvous with life comes to a climax, when he goes to the races and wagers his last 70,000 francs to ascertain wether he should change his ways with the theory of him hitting rock bottom as a catalyst to ridding himself of the distressing addiction that he desires to shy away from. The incitement occurs and Bob strives to make amends with the help of his friend Paulo and the complex Anne while using his foresight on the big apple as an incentive. With that accomplished, he begins planning a spectacular heist inspired by none other than the unanimous legendary copycat of all-Pablo Picasso. With the aid of his faithful amigos,Paulo and Raoul he assembles a contingent of partners to assist him in his sophisticated heist. It is here where the plot truly stands out. A foundation is layed to dummy the heist,with an alternate plan of stealing the prized paintings that the casino holds dear. With subtle artistic elements involved in his demeanor, Bob, provides the viewer with the predicted conclusion of faking a heist to commit another, with the ultimate aim of pilfering the paintings. While this would be capturing in itself, the objective of alternate heists and the manner in which it is carried out, the conclusion yet again differs and with use of fantastic perception, the scripted tale yet again wavers. This waffling procedure further bewitches the viewer to the very end. For any avid fan of heist films, this one in all likelihood, will prove to be a classic. The various intricate and perplex angles that are carried with such subtlety, beckon us on a pulsating ride. The ambience that the film accommodates, has a classic Western country feel to it, which proves a fitting background to the whole design of the script. Nolte was born to play the role of Bob, and did so with poetic perfection. His classic svelte western appearance and his outstanding improvising instincts are potrayed to the hilt. It is a wonder that we have'nt seen much of this fantastic actor, who like his late friend Marlon Brando, prefers to keep a low profile, yet in the projects that he does undertake, he makes the roles appear tailor-made for him, the characteristic of a true cinematic great. Nolte draws striking similarities with Brando's Vito Corleone in the Godfather, due to his rheoterical disquisition and the aura around his unflappable exterior semblance. Kukhianidze plays the perfect foil to Nolte's character even though there is no romantic connection between the two. It hinges on a mutual understanding of complexity that proves engaging to the whole concept of the storyline. The heist itself, is'nt picture perfect, digressing considerably from the oldies, but the outcome held enough to overcome that. The film was'nt scripted to involve a customary heist, but instead was a hypothesis for breaking new ground with the alternate heist experiment. Directorially the focus centred on elaboration and sophistication rather than the flash and savvy. Creativity, imagination and precision were the stand out qualities that were epitomised by Jordan.
Overall, the film is contrasting and distinctive, and proves to be a perfect showcase for the acting attributes of Nolte, while at the same time providing a dramatic and enticing plot, that grips the viewer till the unanticipated yet marvelous cutain call. - Abhishek Dey