Stealing things...and hearts
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"STEAL ME is one of those little independent films that lacked the budget for advertising and got lost in the theaters until the DVD rolled out. Now it is available and is one of those happy choices for an evening's entertainment that is satisfyingly on more levels than just another coming of age story. Written and directed by Melissa Painter the film has the feeling of extemporaneous creation, so frank and un-pushed are the lines and the story: the fact that it is so beautifully set in the poetic atmosphere of Montana by an unnamed cinematographer takes the film into the realm of professional quality.
Jake (Danny Alexander) is a 16-year-old homeless kid, a street criminal who steals things for the high the experience provides, hopping trains to Montana to meet up with his irresponsible hooker mother whom he never finds. What Jake does encounter as he is stealing a car radio is Tucker (Hunter Parrish) who alters his outrage to feelings of pity for the homeless hungry Jake. Tucker takes him home - a barn and house and ranch and family look that is what Jake has always longer for - and Tucker's father (John Terry) and mother (Cara Seymour) and little sister Cindy (Chelsea Carlson) gradually absorb the mysterious stranger into their home. Jake is given a room in the barn, food, and companionship and eventually a job at the father's train yard company. Jake resists stealing things, encounters Grace (Toby Poser) the next door neighbor who is an unmarried mother and seduces Jake, and Jake meets Tucker's ideal girl Lily Rose (Paz de la Huerta) and encourages Tucker to enter into a physical romance. Tucker introduces Jake to his high school friends, young lads who are fascinated with Jake's knowledge of breaking into cars, hot-wiring autos, and explaining how homes are easy targets for theft. As the story rolls along Jake and Tucker and Lily Rose form a tender relationship, and we gradually discover that most women Jake meets find him not only lovable but also desirable. But Jake's past modus operandi begins to surface and his motives are questioned and in a few surprising turns things turn out against him. Jake is left to continue looking for the mother who has never really 'existed' for him.
Painter knows how to deliver her story with beautiful settings, fine interaction among the characters, and a keen sense on the meaning of family and its importance in becoming an adult. The scenes are at times fragmented with strange kaleidoscopic editing techniques, and unfortunately the dialog is very often inaudible: a qualified sound editor could have altered this critical error and mixed the soundtrack to diminish the music for the sake of hearing the words. But the final feeling of this little film is one of honesty in intention and in production and allows a rather unknown cast to demonstrate some fine ensemble acting. It is a film worth viewing. Grady Harp, September 07
Thief of Hearts
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 02/28/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
Thief of Hearts
Everyone wants Jake sexually. He is a serial thief who is looking for his wanton mother and in the process is befriended by a farm boy named Hunter (Tucker Parrish) and crashes with his family. For whatever reason, everyone lusts for Jake (Danny Alexander) but Hunter seems to be overly in love with him. The two boys do not frolic but use their fists to express their sexual energy. Hunter's mom (Cara Seymour) suppresses her secret desires for her own son by moving them over to Jake. Even Hunter's dad seems to be lusting for Jake as his Hunter's pubescent sister. So where does this movie take us? I am still not sure but whatever the destination was it makes no difference because we have all the fun on the road to it.
The concept is fresh, the actors are new and the scenery is beautiful. Danny Alexander is a thief of hearts and he will probably become a screen presence. He plays a kleptomaniac who tries to come to terms with his own identity while he struggles with the others in the world in which he lives.
The director, Melissa Painter, gives us some very crisp editing as well as a feeling of what small town Montana is like. We get to see the daily and usual life of Montanans as Jake slowly and assuredly integrates himself into the family. The family is full of conflicts; some of which are betrayal and lust, frustration and fulfillment, accepting reality and aspiring for goals.
The story draws the viewer in from the very start and it is very interesting to watch Jake come into the family that he manages to stay disconnected from while being drawn to them at the same time. Painter deftly develops her characters and Jake's adventure always seems very real. The story is straight-forward and the beautiful scenery adds to the telling of the story. There is fragmentation of some scenes but the movie is such a pleasure that it is easy to overlook the faults. The film emits a feeling of honesty and gives a cast of unknowns a chance to show its acting talents.