Nick Nolte plays Bob, a former high-end thief, now a drugged-out loser living in Nice,France. He still retains the loyalty of his friends, however, and this includes Tchiky Karyo, thecop who has busted him time and time again, and who worries about Bob. He is especiallyworried that Bob will return to crime, because that would mean prison for the rest of his life.Sure enough, Bob is seduced into One More Gig, a complicated heist of valuable paintings.
There are remakes, and …here are remakes. There are depressing desecrations like TheHaunting, and then there are marvellous entertainments like The Good Thief. Nolteis terrific, his cragginess rarely more expressively deployed. His banter with Karyo is not justamusing, but also shows the genuine friendship that exists between the two men, and furthermoreallows Jordan to bounce back and forth off the original film, as well as working in somedistinctly US-France humour (Nolte’s comments about French rock star Johnny Halliday beinga case in point). Also worth noting is newcomer Nutsa Kukhianidze. Blessed with a voice thatmakes Lauren Bacall sound like Betty Boop, Kukhianidze’s aggressively self-confident sexuality(and Nolte’s gentlemanly restraint) saves their relationship from developing Entrapment-style creepiness.
The music explodes from all speakers right from the opening seconds, and the high-energyuse of surround continues throughout the film. The mix is very powerful, submerging you in thepulsing life of the Nice underworld. The environmental and sound effects are excellent: fromnight club to casino, you are there. The dialogue is clear and distortion-free (with the exception,of course, of Nolte’s deep gravelly tones, a natural and beautifully captured form of distortion).The sense of separation and space is very strong. All in all a very impressive-sounding disc.
The video transfer is equally strong. The picture comes in both full and 1.85:1 anamorphicwidescreen versions, on opposite sides of the disc. (This double-sided option does create acertain inconvenience, about which more below.) Though the pan-and-scan version is certainlyprofessional, the widescreen presentation is infinitely preferable: this is a film with a very strongvisual sense, and its artistic effect should not be compromised. The colours are excellent, withgood deep blacks, and the contrasts are superb. Take the credit sequence as an example of wherethings could have gone wrong. The camera zooms back from the dark blue of a late-evening/night sky to viewing the same from the depths of a narrow alley. The darkness of thebuilding facades squeeze out the blue, and the scene could easily have been extremely murky orbleached out. Neither happens: the picture remains as sharp and clear as it was theatrically. Thepalette of colours changes radically from seedy nightclub all the way to ritzy casino, and thecolours remain strong and vivid throughout. Grain and edge enhancement aren’t problems either.A great job.
Both sides of the disc have Neil Jordan’s commentary. He is an interesting speaker, and heexplains in detail how he structured his film in relation to the original, as well as discussing boththematic and practical concerns. He does engage in a bit of unnecessary description of the actionon-screen, but by and large this is a strong commentary. The other extras aren’t anything to writehome about. The widescreen side has 7 deleted scenes (some mere seconds long) with optionalcommentary by Jordan. The fullscreen side has the “To Film a Thief” featurette, which is theusual promotional material (yawn). Having to flip the disc over for such slim pickings isirritating, and I can’t see why both versions of the film couldn’t have been included on a singleside. The menu (sporting a very spiffy introduction) has animated and scored intro, main pageand transitions.
A good commentary compensates for the otherwise unimpressive extras, but a top-flight filmand transfer compensate even more. Marvellous stuff.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Director’s Commentary
- “Making Of” Featurette