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The Thief

The Thief (1997)

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A fatherless infant experiences a rough coming of age in 1950s-era Soviet Russia in Pavel Chukhraj’s bittersweet drama The Thief (1997). Born in a muddy field on the Russian steppe, Sanya (Misha Philipchuk) clings to his war-widowed mother even as she falls into romantic relationships with men that he frowns on. Eventually, however, Sanya comes to admire his stepfather––a macho army officer (Vladimir Mashkov) who empowers him with tough love. When Tolyan (Mashkov) disappears and Sanya’s mother dies of an infection, the youngster is left to fend for himself using the few tools at his disposal. Chukhraj’s film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, and it’s quite possible that voters were swayed by the sumptuous Yekaterina Rednikova, whose gritty performance is enhanced by a memorable sex scene.