Painful to watch this Powerful little Film - But Worth It!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jacob Kornbluth has written and directed this explosive little film with such finesse that the multiple messages of life in the ghetto, the power of the need for family, the introspective view of children caught in the fault lines of life, and the incomprehensible difficulties of mere survival in a world of chaos are all delivered with conviction and power. This is a very fine little Indie film that deserves a wide audience.
The Zaidmans are a family of five living in a tenement building in New York City in an area where the streets are ghetto and the tenements house myriad people with lives that are one of struggle. The mother Sue (Mary-Louise Parker) is the sole financial supporter since her husband Paul (David Warshofsky) is a stroke victim leaving him wheelchair bound and brain damaged. Not even her visiting mother (Lois Smith) can tolerate Sue's volatile temperament and is unable to stay to offer relief. Izzy (Michael Silverman) is the active child while his brother Sam (Jonah Bobo) and sister Amy (Chelsea Harkins) seem to not mind being confined to their apartment, watching TV with their disabled father. Sue's best friend Ruth (Audra McDonald) is her only contact with sanity in this household that not only drains her time when she is not working to support the family, but presents her with a husband who is nearly vegetative and her child Izzy who needs 24 hour monitoring!
Izzy cannot resign himself to the bleak future of what his home represents and so spends his time braking into people's apartments just for the relief of it, doing little damage but breaking and entering for the purpose of showing the absent owners that he has some degree of power over them. At times he takes his best friend Robbie (Jelani Jeffries) in order to have proof to the rapster kids on the street that he is powerful. Once his reputation is established he taunts is colleagues on some ventures and ends up in a purse snatching crime spree.
At one point Izzy, with friends in tow as witnesses, breaks into an apartment he thinks is deserted only to be discovered by a young couple who had been in the throes of sex. The couple listens to Izzy's pleas for mercy and stories of why he is there, yet Izzy is taken to the police station where his mother comes to obtain his release. Izzy promises to change and Sue in desperation, only supported by her friend Ruth, comes close to a breakdown by the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of her life. Just when Izzy finally makes some verbal contact with his father, further realizing his hopeless future, he goes on a break-in outing and starts a fire in his own building. This creates the momentum for the finale of the story, one in which little is said in words but much is resolved in eye contact and body language: the ending must be saved for the impact it holds.
Mary-Louise Parker once again shows her ability to create characters who not only touch but grab our hearts. Michael Silverman is a fine little child actor (as are Bobo, Hawkins, and Jeffries) and manages to keep his character within the bounds of credibility - no mean trick for the role as it is written. The supporting cast is likewise of top caliber. The only criticism is with the sound system: the kids doing rap and even just 'talking the talk' are simply unintelligible, so much of Izzy's interaction with his 'gang' is lost in the messy mixing.
BEST THIEF IN THE WORLD is a solid piece of work, not easy to watch because of content, but a very powerful little drama that represents only a drop of ink in the megapolis of New York (read the World). Grady Harp, April 05
David M. Rossi | 01/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What an incredibly true to life story The Best Thief In The World is! This drama is what more movies about families in crisis should be. You certainly won't find any others to match its' ability of displaying what life in desperate situations is truly like. With a dad incapacitated due to a stroke, a mom trying to make ends meet and hope that it will all come together and a bad neighborhood filled with kids growing up in city poverty condidtions, what's a tween to do? Young Izzy breaks into others' apartments less for what he can steal and more for the thrill of doing it and not getting caught. He leaves several examples of his having been there, so the people know that their living space had been invaded, but takes very little if anything at all most visits. The ending of this movie is very powerful and not in any Hollywood sense of the word. This is a made for cable true life drama that is done perfectly in that real independent movie sense and definitely deserves to be watched again and again."