Thieves (1996) Poster


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Confusing and Fascinating and Worth Repeating
havanadany15 January 2000
I've watched this movie less as a coherent whole and more as an interrupted series of brilliant little moments. There is the scene where Catherine Deneuve is riding in the car explaining the philosophical nature of money. It didn't belong, but it was a very nice scene. There is the scene where Daniel Auteuil and Laurence Cote chat over his breakfast in a hotel and he sees her laugh for the first time. Nicely set up. Then there is the scene where Deneuve and Auteuil go to the Opera. The plot is muddled, but the actors provide fascinating little moments. Props to Techine for incredible direction with attention to character insight.
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Fascinating, if slightly puzzling
SKG-221 March 1999
A love triangle. A crime story. A drama about fraternal conflict. All could make fine stories on their own, but in this film they're thrown together, and then given a philosophical spin (appropriate, since one of the characters is a philosophy professor). It's also more character-driven than you'd expect from this type of story; we are taken into the character's motivation, so we understand their actions, rather than have them driven by plot machinations. And it's done like a novel, flashing back and forth, so actions unfold gradually to reveal another layer. Unfortunately, as, it seems, with many films from France, the story doesn't so much end as stop. This may be appropriate with something like, say, UN COEUR EN HIVER, but it left me feeling a little cheated here. Still, this is worthwhile viewing.

Of the actors, the only ones which are immediately familiar to me are Daniel Auteuil and Catherine Deneuve. Auteuil is playing someone who has trouble expressing himself, a character he seems to specialize him, based on what I've seen of his films (JEAN DE FLORETTE/MANON OF THE SPRING and UN COEUR EN HIVER), and he does another fine job here. I've never been a fan of Deneuve; I usually find her too inexpressive and icy. Here, however, she plays a character you usually don't find in crime films; an older woman having an affair with someone younger (here, a woman) who isn't fading or scheming. She makes Marie, who at first seems didactic, fully human.
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Techine does great crime film
taylor988510 May 2002
This is a fine effort by Andre Techine describing a messy triangle between a philosophy professor (Deneuve), a grim, harried detective (Auteuil) and the teenaged girl they are both in love with (Laurence Cote). The girl has joined the crime family that the cop has escaped from--Alex's brother has just been killed by police in a shoot-out while trying to steal luxury cars, and Alex must move very carefully when he returns home for the funeral. All these matters are handled very adeptly by the director, whose early works I confess to finding dull and lifeless exercises in style (Barocco!).

I can't say enough about Deneuve's performance; she has left the glamour behind in her 50's and just gives us one fine role after another. Marie makes it clear she has a special affection for Juliette: "I don't love women, I love Juliette." Her tolerance for Alex's clumsy attentions after Juliette's disappearance is beautifully done. Auteuil's attraction is more problematic; you can sense that there hasn't been much affection in his life and allowing Juliette to get close to him endangers his efforts to remain a loner. Finally, praise to Laurence Cote for her bravura blend of elegance and punk-rock; a wonderful new star.
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Before Christ was a time of orgies. Then came love.
lastliberal21 December 2008
How to describe this film in about 25 words. I agonized over that considerably. It really defies a pithy description.

Is it a crime story? Daniel Auteuil (Caché, The Valet) is a cop from a family of criminals. His big brother is killed in a botched car theft, and he is piecing things together. Of course, he is not formally investigating as it is his family involved, and also his (girlfriend, lover, whatever) is also a part of it.

It is, at the same time a love story. A love triangle between Alex (Auteuil), Marie (Catherine Deneuve), and Juliette (Laurence Côte). Alex is just using Juliette to let off some steam, but does grow to love her. Marie is madly in love with her. The relationships and the criminal enterprise are intertwined to the point where you really have great difficulty describing just what the point of it all is.

Me? I just enjoyed the great performances of Deneuve and Auteuil and Côte, as well as Juliette's brother (Benoît Magimel). That was enough.
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Unlikable characters in a likable film
birck22 June 2009
I DVR'd this film in spite of a two-star rating from Comcast, because I like Daniel Auteuil and Catherine DeNeuve. How bad could it be? I wasn't disappointed. It begins with a mystery-who killed the father of the cynical little kid? And slowly breaks open the story, revealing the characters as it reveals the criminal enterprise that brought them all together. Most of them-including the little kid-are not family-friendly. This isn't a family film. A cop who hates his brother and is in turn hated by their father, who tells him, face to face, that he would have preferred that the cop had been killed instead. The dead man's son seems to despise his entire family, including his mother, and his uncle, the cop. Who, in turn, doesn't like kids. The cop's girlfriend doesn't like him much, and he really doesn't want to deal with her except for sex. But as others have noted about this film on this forum, the director pulls out just enough unexpected gilded moments to make it enjoyable to watch-like: a middle-aged college professor delivering a 3-minute dissertation on the position of money in western philosophy to a professional car thief during a nighttime ride-as a passenger- through the streets of Lyon. At the car thief's request. That sort of theater of the Absurd approach is one thing I like about French films. They're dependable that way.
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Beautiful imagery tells an odd tale of unique characters
Big Germ16 December 1999
Perhaps the subtitles failed to do justice to the movie, but the visual construction of Les Voleurs crosses all boundaries. The complexities of the plot can be confusing; however, the visual imagery used in the film helps reinforce the characteristics of each relationship the film studies. All in all, a brilliant film to watch if you feel up to reading the subtitles.
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And I do not expect her. She filled my life.
milacoala7 March 2017
   The film, Shakespeare's shades. At the heart of the film is love. Everything else, just around this love.

And when Auteuil says: You just do not want to fight.

Heroine Catherine Deneuve fights: I fall asleep with her and wake up with her.

What can say more?

It's a wonderful movie in the movie.

Suicide. And how is it possible to live,

The image Heroine (Deneuve) - two in one, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet buried in the apartment.
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Interesting but uneven and overlong.
gridoon1 February 2004
This film has a complex, multi-layered structure that grabs your interest...but not much substance underneath. There's no real mystery to the plot, and no real revelations about "human nature" either. Well-acted all around - including a little boy who is wise way beyond his years. (**)
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How do you say "Whatever!" in French?
=G=2 July 2003
"Thieves" has Techine at the helm with Deneuve and Auetuil in the spotlight and critical plaudits aplenty. However, my reaction at the end of the two hour flick was "Yeah, so???". Telling of the intertwined lives of a cop and his brother and a girl and her lover and a handful of other people, this character driven flick wanders to and fro interminably, jumping around in time, examining the details of their fatalistic and pragmatic lives as they fuss and stew and brood over the this and that of their existence. Given subtitles and a soup thin story with no moral, no message, no hero, no villain, just character study heaped upon character study and no character that's even likeable, "Thieves" will not have much appeal for the masses. Recommended for French speakers or French film buffs only. (B)
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Maybe these comments are spoilers
bilney-130 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Sure, there were some good things about "Les Voleurs". And if it could have sustained its mood and its so-called plot up to the end of the film, I'd have given it more stars.

It was interesting that almost all comments have been positive. I guess nobody noticed something rather obvious towards the conclusion, and if they had thought about it, they'd have understood why they were a bit baffled by the movie. The cast started baling out of the movie towards the end. Catherine Deneuve vanished. Her absence was explained by someone telling the hero that she had committed suicide. Off camera, no less, with no indication that that might happen. Then the young heroine, Deneuve's lover, disappeared. Where did she go? Oh yeah, someone mentioned that she'd gone to Marseilles. Oh really? I didn't notice her packing.

So the director cleverly covered for them. Were his stars fed up? Was the shoot going overtime? Had the production run out of money? Anyway, finally he's left with the kid to come back to, the same one he opened the movie with. At least it gave him a couple of bookends, but what was between them was a plot with no satisfactory conclusion.

Too bad. This could have been a fine movie, but it never got finished.

Jelby, Victoria, B.C.
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