DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: TIFF 2010 - The Light Thief

Friday 10 September 2010

TIFF 2010 - The Light Thief

The Light Thief (2010) dir. Aktan Arym Kubat
Starring: Aktan Arym Kubat, Taalaikan Abazova, Askat Sulaimanov, Asan Amanov and Stanbek Toichubaev


By Greg Klymkiw

Is there anything more boring than movies from Iran?

Well, how about movies from Kyrgyzstan?

From director-star Aktan Arym Kubat, The Light Thief is a dull, slender, well-meaning, mildly quixotic trifle that is paced slower than the Mesozoic Era and makes considerable inroads for the country of Kyrgyzstan to steal the Dullsville crown from our Iranian brothers.

This twee little item has our protagonist whimsically plodding through a tiny town in the middle of Nowheresville - helping poor pensioners by fiddling with their electricity meters so they can get a break on their bills. He is eventually discovered, fired and in the process, battles post-Soviet corruption to milk the town dry, finding more inner peace and redemption than he bargained for.

Isn't that nice?

This is not an awful picture, but I do wonder why these things continue to get made. I can only assume there are enough segments of the movie-loving public - so starved for something new and different - that they're willing to settle for featherweight "art" like this.

It's a nice looking film, but with the accent on "nice" rather than visually sumptuous or dazzling. Kubat's compositions are always very pretty, but the camera holds on many of them for what seems like an eternity. Precious little happens in these shots - save for twee little moments from the neo-realist school of filmmaking with, weirdly, far too many daubs of whimsy, which might all might have been vaguely interesting if it hadn't been so annoying.

Make no mistake. We're not in the territory of Bela Tarr Dullsville - thank Christ! (Though even that would have proven more intolerable since Tarr at least drags us through muck while Kubat tiptoes through the Kyrgyzstanian tulips.)

There's some filmmaking talent here, to be sure, but the almost unbearable tweeness of the proceedings induces the double threat of inducing a sore ass AND the rising of bile.

I can imagine someone liking this sort of thing and for what it is, it could have been worse. That said, it's yet another example of the kind of rarefied nonsense that appeals to granola-munching poseurs.

Great movies - even those that deal with the smaller moments in life - need to make them feel BIGGER than life itself to exist on a big screen. The Light Thief, however, feels so tiny and inconsequential.

And, uh... lest we forget - twee.


Anonymous said...

Oh come on. God you sound so American, completely unwilling or perhaps unable to appreciate anything that isn't made on the North American continent using the same North American formula that Canadians and Americans know and love.

Anonymous said...

Get a life dude. Turn the TV off if you hated it that much, obviously you know little about Kyrgyzstan. would you rather they show massacres? Of course you would. The post before me is right, ugly American syndrome.

Anonymous said...

this a very light, narrow-minded comment totally idiotic, from someone (an AMERICAN !!! god knows they know the art of filmmaking) who does not know how to watch filmsnot to appreciate the diversity of filmamking. Dullville? How pathetic is that comment.... Even if the film lacks ambition in finding an exit for those villagers, it brings forth a sense of community that we rarely see in our western world.

Greg Klymkiw said...

Dearest Anonymous 1: You suggest I am "unable to appreciate anything that isn't made on the North American continent" with the "formula" we in The New World "know and love". How do you explain my review of "Autumn (Harud)" at the same festival? It's from India and it has a slow pace - THAT IS EARNED because the filmmaker knows how to use it well. Here is the review for your edification:


Greg Klymkiw said...

Dearest Anonymous 2: I do not watch TV. I saw the film on a big screen at the magnificent Toronto International Film Festival. I also love Americans and do not think they are ugly. Here is my review of a genuinely good foreign film I saw at the same festival:


Greg Klymkiw said...

Dear Anonymous 3: I am not American. I am, in fact, Canadian. That said, I love Americans and I love American cinema. In fact, I love all cinema that is good - which The Light Thief is not. That said, I did rave about an Indian film that had a very slow pace which I saw at the same festival I saw The Light Thief at. Here's the review:


Bob said...


I have to believe that you must have been too tired at Toronto to see the detail in this film. How did you miss the subtlety in the mother daughter scenes or the wife giving her husband a bath while she was chastising him for risking his life, or the plight of Gulner who was about to be dismissed as director of the local house of culture, and the joy of the boy who climbed the tree to see over the mountains. By missing the detail you missed the movie. Perhaps you should avoid these little gems at the busy festivals, and only view them when all of your senses are awake.

Anonymous said...

It's ridiculous that this reviewer feels like he has to prove he likes foreign films by providing links to ones he's given good reviews. So is he not allowed to dislike this film because it's not a Western movie? He's not allowed to express a negative opinion?
It amazes me that people can forget what a review actually is whilst they're still in the middle of reading one.