The Painter and the Thief (2020)

The Painter and the Thief (2020)

An artist searching for her missing painting faces down the man who stole it

7.8

Movie

Norway, United States of America
English, Norwegian
Documentary, Drama
2020
BENJAMIN REE
Bjørn Inge Nordland, Karl-Bertil Nordland
102 min

What it's about

When two of artist Barbora Kysilkova’s most valuable paintings are stolen from a gallery at Frogner in Oslo, the police are able to find the thief after a few days, but the paintings are nowhere to be found. Barbora goes to the trial in hopes of finding clues, but instead she ends up asking the thief if she can paint a portrait of him. This will be the start of a very unusual friendship. Over three years, the cinematic documentary follows the incredible story of the artist looking for her stolen paintings, while at the same time turning the thief into art.

The take

The Painter and the Thief opens with a great hook: an artist tracks down and confronts the man who stole her painting. In a surprising turn, the two become close and develop an intimacy that deepens when she begins to paint the troubled man.

Yet, director Benjamin Ree pushes past where other documentarians would have been content to stop, and instead begins to deconstruct the very narrative we’ve followed up till now. At its core, this is a film about the way we tell stories about ourselves and others, and how often people don’t fit into the neat categories we set out for them.

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