VOD REVIEW: Painter and the Thief exhibits a superb portrait

A film that starts with the burglary of precious paintings delves deeper into human emotion and the need for forgiveness than ever imagined.

It’s a documentary with elegant strokes, and The Painter and the Thief paints a complex picture of the relationship between an artist and the thief who stole her paintings.

Norwegian filmmaker Benjamin Ree brings this film together with delicate artistry, letting us get to know both central people equally, providing documentation of the ways they complement and contrast.

Barbora is sensitive and emotional — always trying to help — even though her new friend Karl can’t even remember where he stashed her paintings. She forms a bond with him that cannot be broken.

Karl finds solace in his friendship with her, but his upbringing and life difficulties have kept him stealing and living a criminal, addict lifestyle for a long time.

So when Karl becomes immobile after a car chase, it’s Barbora who becomes the savior for him. Their difficulties are shared, and the film puts a lens on how close two vastly different people can be.

It’s magnificent work, and beautiful beyond comprehension. It’s the first incredible documentary of the year, and Oscar glory may be in its sights.

4/5 Stars

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