I must admit, I owned a DVD of The Good Thief for many years before I finally came round to ever actually watching the picture recently. Jordan has taken Bob le Flambeur, Jean-Pierre Melville’s satiny little French safecracking thriller from 1955, and frosted it with so much underworld atmosphere and ”character” that the heist is now effectively in the background. The film is rife with extravagant gestures, but there’s got to be more to a haunted romantic dream than Nick Nolte’s aura of honorable wreckage.
Whilst the Good Thief is not nearly as good as Melville’s original, the movie is certainly worth checking out. Neil Jordan’s remake updates the action to the present day and moves the location from Paris and the North of France to the French Riviera. Nick Nolte stars as retired jewel thief-turned gambler and full-time junkie Bob Montagnet, a US/French expat living out his days and nights in the bars and casinos of Nice until the prospect (wait for it) of a last big score spurs him to clean up his act.
The Good Thief looks good (courtesy of cinematographer Chris Menges), but I could have done without some of the more flashy edits and associated trickery which bring little to the party.
Nolte is on good form, despite his penchant for mumbling and the bad dye job inflicted on his barnet.
He spars well with Tchéky Karyo (Baptiste) who plays Nolte’s detective frenemy Roger, whilst Ralph Fiennes cameos as Tony Angel, a more civilised dry run for his thuggish Harry Waters from In Bruges (2008).
Said Taghmaouim, who you may well recognise from Wonder Woman (2017) and Three Kings (1999), co-stars as Bob’s loyal lieutenant Paulo.