Welcome back to “it’s been a crazy long time since I watched this” theater, wherein I try to recollect the memories of a now almost mythical time. In this case, my world is still a complete mess thanks to the events of our world. This film was mostly a welcome reprieve from engaging myself in that world, but sadly I was immediately thrust back into its cold embrace upon the conclusion.
I’m feeling flowery today clearly! At any rate. There is so much going on here, in a film that on the surface might seem rather simple. I suppose most things seem simple on the surface, but my point is that there is a lot more depth here than one might immediately engage with. Frank, the titular Thief, is a complexly simple man. In some ways he’s almost childlike in his worldview. Prison did that to him, by freezing his emotional growth at eighteen or so. Arguably the state did that earlier by raising him in whatever hellhole of an orphanage he came out of.
But, that is to say, his vision of the future is childlike in both its simplicity and its complexity. The logic of children can be like that. He follows that logic intently, never for a minute imagining it might actually ruin him. He follows it right until the point where he cannot follow it anymore and then he switches directly into the emotional survival skills he acquired in that prison stint.
It’s fascinating to watch. Almost equally fascinating is the choice that Jessie makes to follow him on this journey. She knows what Frank is. If she didn’t at first he is completely, and endearingly, honest about it. She is getting involved with a thief who has a plan to go straight. Not a journey that typically enjoys a high likelihood of success. She does it anyway. Is part of that Frank’s charm? Maybe, although we don’t really see a lot of that from him. More likely she has simply realized that this long shot is still the best shot she has.
It’s all just a lot. Wrapped up in as smooth a heist film I’ve seen since Rififi. I can imagine a world where Frank’s plan came off. Where he gets the money he’s owed and that’s it. I don’t know if that world has a happy ending either, but at any rate that just isn’t how this goes. At least not in the movies.