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THIEF, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Katya (Ekaterina Rednikov) and her six year son Sanya (Misha Philipchuk) are travelling in post-war Russia, when they meet Tolyan (Vladimir Mashkov), a handsome soldier, who becomes part of their lives. Sanya dreams of his real father, who he never met, and initially hates his motherís lover, with whom he has to compete for his motherís affections. But is Tolyan all he claims to be, or is he really a thief?

"The shafts of light stream through the window of a run down boarding house, and six year old Sanya waits alone outside the locked door of the bedroom, where his mother and lover are privately occupied. The Thief is the poignant story of a little boy, through whose eyes we experience life in post-war Russia. Beautifully scripted and directed with an evocative music score, the film is a real charmer, glowing with richness as we embark on a bitter sweet journey. Casting is top notch, with wonderful performances from Vladimir Mashkov (charismatic as Tolyan), Ekaterina Rednikova (moving as Katya), and Misha Philipchuk (affecting as Sanya, the little boy with the expressive, heart-shaped face). The characters are complex and engaging: the balance achieved between the Tolyanís charm and ruthlessness allows us one minute to be seduced by him, the next to be repulsed. His is the pivotal character, and the one that influences Sanyaís life totally. We are transported into the Russian way of life, with its humanity and difficulties. The eventual realisation that Tolyan is not all he seems is a harsh blow in differing ways to both Katya and Sanya. There are issues of right and wrong, the appeal of belonging, and having that much-dreamed about father figure. Visually appealin, too, The Thief, like Kolya before it, is captivating cinema that tells a heart-wrenching tale with bewitching images."
Louise Keller

"There have been many wonderful films about childhood, but none have the power and cinematic depth of The Thief. From its sparse, opening image of the pregnant Katya giving birth in the midst of a muddy wasteland, The Thief is a startling and hypnotic work, a film that not only details a painful relationship, but with haunting realism, highlights the shattering world of Stalinist Russia. The Thief contains an extraordinary performance by Misha Philipchuk as Sanya, who gives such a knowing, expressive performance for one so young. This is a film that explores a complex relationship and does so with a brutal honesty. It's a bleak film, yet it's one that is remains emotionally honest never resorting to pap cheery conclusions. Stunningly photographed, the film captures the expansive, almost mythological wasteland of the Russian terrain, without ever losing sight on its characters. This is a beautifully intimate story which is also remarkably cinematic. Fresh, haunting, and emotionally charged, The Thief is an astonishing and heartfelt work."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

THIEF, THE (M)
(Russia)

CAST: Vladimir Mashkov, Ekaterina Rednikova, Misha Philipchuk

PRODUCER: Igor Tolstunov

DIRECTOR: Pavel Chukhrai

SCRIPT: Pavel Chukhrai

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Vladimir Klimov

EDITOR: Marina Dobryanskaya, Natalia Kucherenko

MUSIC: Vladimir Dashkevich

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Victor Petrov

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 21, 1998

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Shock

VIDEO RELEASE: February 3, 2007







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