Released thirty-five years ago, Michael Mann’s Thief was an auspicious …
Ruth Huxley (Sonja Bennett) is 35 years old grocery clerk with little ambitions, a perchant for heavy drinking and a collection of friends that are drifting away after they have children. To make matters worse Ruth scorches the earth at a baby shower with her drunken shenanigans, alienating all of her old high-school friends, who turn her into a pariah. Ruth is considered a disappointment by everyone in her life, and with this latest outburst, she’s thisclose to being written off completely.
Minor quibbles aside, there is little doubt that Thief remains one of the director’s more accomplished and assured projects. It serves as an indicator of the material that speaks to him, material he would borrow from a few more times in the following decades and boasts a raw, subtly layered performance from the iconic James Caan. Whether it represents Mann’s best work or not, it certainly is neo-noir done right.
Usually the first thing added to a film when it is remade is glitz. American films from the 1970s had their own distinct, philosophical quality to them, something that inevitably gets lost in translation when the material is put to screen again by a new team of filmmakers. Still, the one thing I didn’t anticipate while watching screenwriter William Monahan and star Mark Wahlberg tackle The Gambler was a lack of visceral thrills. Director Rupert Wyatt’s film nails the look of 1974’s The Gambler, but it lacks the feel of the original.