The Good Thief Movie (2002)

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Directed by Neil E. Jordan

Produced by Seaton McLean, Stephen Woolley, Neil Jordan

Written by Neil E. Jordan

Based on Bob le Flambeur by Jean-Pierre Melville Auguste Le Breton

Music by Elliot Goldenthal

Cinematography Chris Menges

Genre Action, Crime, Drama

Runtime 109 min

Year 2002

Gross $3.52 M


Nick Nolte Bob Montagnet

Emir Kusturica Vladmir

Nutsa Kukhianidze Anne

Ouassini Embarek Said

Tcheky Karyo Roger

Said Taghmaoui Paulo

Patricia Kell Yvonne

Gerard Darmon Raoul

Julien Maurel Philippe

Sarah Bridges Philipa

Ralph Fiennes Tony Angel

Marc Lavoine Remi


The Good Thief is largely based on Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1955 French heist thriller, Bob le flambeur. Set against the attractive backdrop of the French Riviera, the film is about Bob Montagnet (Nick Nolte) being at one of the most desperate point in his life. He is a junkie thief who is impoverished, addicted to drugs, alcohol and gambling.

In a downtown nightclub in Nice, France, Bob Montagnet meets teenage waitress Anne (Nutsa Kukhianidze) on his way to the toilet. Minutes later, he saves the life of an old friend Roger (Tcheky Karyo), a policeman ambushed by a desolate drug dealer Said (Ouassini Embarek).

The club owner Remi (Marc Lavoine) treats Anne harshly and Bob rescues her by taking her into his flat. After losing all of his cash at the race track, Bob finally buys into Raoul’s incredible heist plan on a Riviera casino. He assembles his accomplices including partners Paulo and Raoul, computer expert Vladmir, Anne, and twin casino guards Albert and Bertram.

The aim was to steal the works of art by Cezanne, Picasso, and Modigliani that were in the casino. They planned of a bogus robbery of the casino while a second team would steal the pictures through the vault. Roger has his eyes set on Bob as he knows he must be planning malicious activity. However, they still manage to steal the pieces at last.


The film under the direction of Neil Jordan is such a brilliant revelation of his genius. The movie is drawn to an admirable character in Bob Montagnet, only that he cannot stop being on the wrong side of the law.

Title itself is so imaginative. Bob Montagnet is portrayed as a good thief which is a norm not associated with thieves. Instances of saving police officer Roger and rescuing Anne instead of taking advantage of her are just a proof of the goodness of the thief.

Even though Bob is planning a heist, you just can’t help but wish him the best. The scheme is so creative and engaging and this creates admiration towards the perpetrators.

Choice of music was spot on, making the experience even more interesting. The director adds more visual scheme of the French pop art inspired by that period’s music, such as Leonard Cohen’s “A thousand kisses deep”, Bono’s piece “That’s Life” and Johnny Hallyday’s cover of “Black is Black”.

Photographed by Oscar winning cinematographer Chis Menges, the film is set in glamourous French locations abandoning the normal Hollywood settings by many producers. They both combine American flamboyance and French dimension, especially when it comes to the choice of the nightclub where most of the protagonists of the heist meet.

There is also a great choice of a diverse cast. Roger who is a cop prioritizes on saving Bob rather than solving crimes. A weird relationship between a cop and a thief is illustrated making the film even more dramatic. We also see Anne, an innocent teenage immigrant, working in a nightclub where she is mistreated by her boss.

The producer brings even more reality of life in Nice, France by portraying Said as a drug dealer with Algerian roots. The twin casino guards Bertram and Albert are brought in to match with the double turn of events in the film.

Director Neil Jordan also makes great use of balance of pictures. This is more evident during the heist. Since the heist is a double plan, the producer ensures there is a double turn of events in quick succession to ensure that the viewer is not drawn to one scene. The turning of events is also illustrated by Bob’s rise from an impoverished gambler to a heist mastermind. He also crosses paths with Said before the heist, but they later become accomplices.

The film is rated R, therefore, unsuitable for teenagers due to acts of crime, sexual displays, vulgar language and drugs. However, besides the crime part, the film is about rebirth in all the characters. It illustrates a sense of hope for anybody regardless of their situation. For anyone interested in a crime/drama combo, The Good Thief would not disappoint.

Choosing an international cast was a brilliant idea. However, this comes with setbacks as much of the film’s dialogue is hard to comprehend. Thick accents from most of the actors proves not only a challenge to many viewers but also to the native English speaker Bob.


Being a fan of intelligent movies with mastermind characters like Bob, Neil Jordan’s piece was a perfect recipe. I couldn’t move my eyes away from the TV since the plot was so engaging. The accent of the French and Spanish speakers posed a challenge for an English speaker like me too, but all in all it was a brilliant piece. We got an average rating of 6.5/10 from 9,942 votes, which isn’t bad at all.

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