Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger
Starring: Jim Carter, Caroline Goodall, Rollo Weeks, Aaron Johnson, Jasper Harris
Director: Richard Claus
A British co-production, I was looking forward to this movie adaptation of Cornelia Funke’s novel of the same name but it seems to lack a certain gusto and excitement, and only picks up two thirds of the way through. Was it the acting, screenplay or directing? I honestly think it was a combination of all.
THE THIEF LORD is set in Venice, Italy where two brothers, Prosper (Aaron Johnson) and 6 year-old Bo (Jasper Harris), take refuge. On the run from their cold, uncaring, vain and thoroughly snobbish uncle and aunt who choose to care for Bo while teenager Prosper is displaced and lives in an orphanage, the brothers reunite and stowaway to Venice, Italy, the city of their late mother’s dreams and which she had such a passion for.
Without money and having to fend for themselves their dire circumstance drives them into pilfering for food including medicines for an unwell Bo, but they quickly come unstuck when caught by a suspicious shopkeeper who chases after them. What could have been their undoing luckily turns round in their favour when they are rescued by an older teenage boy wearing a mask (akin to a Batman disguise to hide his identity) who knows the Venetian backstreets and helps them outwit their pursuer.
Scipio (Rollo Weeks) is not all he seems but this Fagin-like character then befriends them inviting them to stay with him in an abandoned cinema, which he shares with other runaways. Thieving becomes Prosper and Bo’s way of life but hot on their trail is a private detective, Victor (Jim Carter) working for their aunt and uncle. Not only that but they are drawn into a magical adventure when they find a sculpture in the shape of a wing. Bo seems particularly sensitive to the wing’s power which increases when it is finally returned to its origins.
The acting was mediocre on the whole with a few exceptions, notably Alexei Sayle who plays stolen goods dealer Barbarossa. He really got into his role and redeemed the movie to some extent in the closing scenes. Jasper Harris also gives a talented performance and though only nine in real life is a name to look out for in the future – he seems to have a natural affinity to acting. The action scenes in the movie really didn’t come across convincingly enough and it just seemed to lack the right amount of dynamism to galvanize the audience’s attention making the film drag despite being entertaining in places.
A great shame. Instead of being average this movie had the potential to be so much more.