The Thief

  • 1997
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

This tight little allegory about a Russian mother and son who fall under the sway of a charming brute gains depth from a quick review of post-World War II Soviet history, but works just as well without it. As WWII draws to a close, war-widow Katya (Ekaterina Rednikova) bears a son, Sanya, on the side of a muddy road. Six years later the dust of war has...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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This tight little allegory about a Russian mother and son who fall under the sway of a charming brute gains depth from a quick review of post-World War II Soviet history, but works just as well without it. As WWII draws to a close, war-widow Katya (Ekaterina

Rednikova) bears a son, Sanya, on the side of a muddy road. Six years later the dust of war has hardly settled, Katya is still looking for a husband and a home, and Sanya (Misha Philipchuk) pines for a father figure. On a crowded train, Katya meets Tolyan (Vladimir Mashkov), a swarthy man in

uniform. They become lovers, and the new family moves into a boarding house where Tolyan poses as Katya's husband. Tolyan gives the boy a few valuable lessons in the powers of violence and intimidation, but it's not long before Katya finds out just what Papa Tolyan is really up to: After treating

their fellow boarders to a night at the circus, Tolyan sneaks back to the house and relieves them of all their valuables. It's no coincidence that Sanya is born just as the war ends, or that Tolyan tells Sonia that he's really the secret son of Josef Stalin or that he sports a Papa Stalin tattoo

on his chest. The visual keys to the subtext are a tad obvious, but they're a big help to anyone unfamiliar with the complex relationship that once existed between the Soviet citizens and their despot. Besides, it's the great cast that makes this film worth seeing: Mashkov positively drips sensual

menace, Rednikova is a rare beauty, and the talented Philipchuk, the story's moral center, is blessed with one of those wonderfully expressive faces that one seldom sees outside Our Gang comedies. (In Russian, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: R
  • Review: This tight little allegory about a Russian mother and son who fall under the sway of a charming brute gains depth from a quick review of post-World War II Soviet history, but works just as well without it. As WWII draws to a close, war-widow Katya (Ekateri… (more)

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