A handsome thief dressed in a captain’s uniform seduces the mother of a young son, with their liaison lasting a number of months before the thief is duly arrested. . . As anyone who has seen the Russian film The Thief (1997), by Pavel Chukhrai, can affirm, Toljan the thief symbolizes none other than Stalin, he who seduced the Russian people (the mother and her son) without loving them but most certainly with the inclination to betray them. And so, to be sure, Toljan is a betrayer.
Thievery? Toljan steals people’s small possessions; Stalin stole farmland through collectivization—and much else besides. A message of politics and criminality is in full force here, as is a vision of the worthlessness of totalitarianism.
The Thief is made and written cleverly enough to be unforgettable. It stars Vladimir Mashkov, Ekaterina Rednikova and Misha Philipchuk, all of whom are splendid.
(In Russian with English subtitles)