It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Nick Nolte plays a great shambling wreck of a wounded Hemingway hero in "The Good Thief," a film that's like a descent into the funkiest dive on the wrong side of the wrong town.
He's Bob, the child of an American father and a French mother, so he claims--but he seems to change his story every time he tells it. He lives in Nice, on the French Riviera, moving easily through the lower depths of crime and drugs, and--this is the tricky part--liked by everyone. When it's rumored he is up to a new heist, the policeman Roger (Tcheky Karyo) tells his partner, "Find out before he does it!" He doesn't want to arrest Bob, he wants to save him from himself.
Bob is a thief and a heroin addict. "Heroin is his lady," his friend Raoul observes. "I thought luck was his lady," says another friend. "When one runs out he turns to the other," says Raoul. Bob is intimately familiar with the language of AA, talking about the 12 steps and "one day at a time" and even at one point citing the Serenity Prayer, but his only visit to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting involves walking in one door and out the other to elude pursuit ("I'm Bob, and I'm an addict," he says on the way through).
Bob is a good man, a good thief, to the bottom of his soul, a gentleman who rescues a teenage hooker (Nutsa Kukhianidze) from a vicious pimp and then becomes her protector, although to be sure he introduces her to bad company. He is headed toward some kind of showdown with his fate. Down to his last 70,000 francs, he goes to the races. "What if you lose?" asks his friend. "I'll have hit rock bottom. I'll have to change my ways." He hits rock bottom. He changes his ways. "I feel a confinement coming on," he says in that deep gravel voice. He chains himself to a bed, eats ice cream, goes through an agonizing detox, and is ready to consider an ingenious plan to steal he treasures of a Monte Carlo casino. No, not the money. The paintings.