I have come
to respect Nick Nolte’s abilities as an actor.
The Nick Nolte that appears in The Good Thief, however, is not the
same Nick Nolte I admired. Here
he mumbles his way about as if he were doing a pale imitation of Marlon
Brando, circa 1951. I
kept expecting him to rip his shirt and yell, “STELLA!”
The first hour of
this remake of the 1955 French Noir Bob le Flambeur is so slow and dark it’s
soporific. After about 20
minutes I bought a cup of coffee to induce wakefulness.
When that didn’t work I resorted to a chocolate bar.
The first hour is where the film should develop characters and
explain who they are and why they’re there.
Alas, Director Neil Jordan apparently didn’t feel that was
important enough because, although characters are introduced, it’s hell
trying to figure out who’s who and why. And the cinematography is what I call pretentious
avant-garde. You’ve gotta
see it to believe it.
Montagnet (Nolte) is a drugged-up gambler who puts together a crew to rob a
casino. There’s a young
Russian girl, Anne (Nutsa Kukhianidze) he saves from a pimp, a cop who’s
chasing him for some reason, and a bunch of other guys who are either good
guys or bad guys (who knows? Who
cares?). Nothing’s ever explained.
Why it takes an hour to set this up is mystifying.
OK, they’re going to rob the casino.
How long did it take to say that?
A lot less than one hour, I can tell you.
That’s why you better take some sort of stimulant if you want to
survive the first hour…because NOTHING HAPPENS!
wait, one thing does happen. One
of the most derivatively drivel scenes Hollywood puts in virtually every
film about a drug addict. Bob’s
a drug addict, right? So he has
to clean up to rob the casino, right? So
guess what he does. I’m sure
you’re way ahead of me. He
takes his Russian girl friend to his apartment, handcuffs himself to the
bed, throws the key on the floor, and tells her not to give him the key when
he asks for it! Gee, that’s
originality for you. Naturally,
a few scenes later he’s sweating and thrashing and asks for the key and
she won’t give it to him. Cut
to three and a half days later and he’s clean (and never again tempted,
nor are drugs ever again mentioned). Hollywood
can always cure an addict with a pair of handcuffs, a bed, a compatriot to
deny him the key, and three and a half days.
My only question is how did he go to the bathroom?
ends with one of those absurd poker games Hollywood loves. You know, the ones where every hand has a full house beating
a flush. And this isn’t
really poker, it’s just five card showdown with no betting after the
initial bet and no drawing, so the odds against getting even one good hand
in an evening are huge. In a
game like this, a Queen high hand will probably win most of the time. But we
never see a hand worse than two of a kind!
the while Nolte’s mumbling stuff you really have to strain to hear. My advice? Don’t
strain. When you walk out of the theater, you’re going to be saying
to your companion, “how did that happen?”
But you really won’t care.