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Overall Rating

Awesome: 26.67%
Worth A Look60%
Just Average: 6.67%
Pretty Crappy: 6.67%
Sucks: 0%

1 review, 9 user ratings

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Steal Me
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by PaulBryant

"Coming of age… with kleptomania."
4 stars

Drifting into rural Montana in search of his estranged mother, 15 year-old Jake (Danny Alexander) finds himself the lucky recipient of an entire family. Though not his own, an archetypal set of farm folk take the young rapscallion into their home after he tries to steal the eldest son's (Tucker, played by Hunter Parrish) car radio. Now living semi-permanently in a town where there ain't much to do, Jonathan tries to transform his reputation from electronic kleptomaniac towards some sort of sexual conquistador.

Combining its wide angles and long lenses with rich, vibrant colors, Steal Me, straight from its opening montage, is a showcase of gorgeous photography. Loud reds, bright greens, and deep blue skies make the viewer believe they’re seeing more than they really are, which helps the film get through its undefined first act. But the beauty and color of Steal Me’s images distract for only so long, and then its mystical plotting starts to become a concern.

Taking Jake home to his Marlboro-Man father, and earthy blonde sister and mother, Tucker shows an immediate interest in his new friend. Is he attracted to Jake? Does he feel sorry for him? Does he just want a new friend? Tucker’s motivations become the movie’s most intriguing aspect, and yet are not fully explored to the depths of the actor’s potential. Instead the film uses the less charismatic Jake as its heart, the character whom all other characters refer or react to. This choice doesn’t ruin the film by any means, but does hinder it from being all that it could have been.

And what it could have been, with its vast array of sexually charged situations (the screenplay could be seen as an anthology of any number of pornographic scene-starters), was a intriguing take on the psychology of compulsive thieving. At one point Jake explains, “there’s something erotic about [stealing],” and though this line is poetic in narration, it rarely becomes an insight into Jake’s character. His adolescent cavorting is slightly forced, but somehow matches up with the boy’s pseudo-charm, which is full of readymade pickup lines and deep, engrossing stares. Likewise, his narration attempts to explain the tortured soul within the nogoodnik drifter, but creates more confusion somehow, as it comes across as confessional while not matching up with the character's actions.

Jake undoubtedly grieves for the loss of his mother (a prostitute whom no one can seem to find) and through the movie changes the way he projects that grief from compulsive stealing to compulsive loving. He doesn't just try to sow his wild oats, but also attempts to really connect with the warm people he meets in the small town, which makes Jake an enigmatic story device. Somehow the truths about his outlooks on life never fully materialize, and leave us, like the character himself, peering closer and closer as we try to uncover the intricacies of his mind.

He talks about the thrill of stealing in the same way he talks to women. Its phony, flowery talk, but it gets the job done. His corny lines aren’t even necessary on one of Tucker’s next door neighbors – a single mother, at that – who has apparently been itching to get him into the sack since he arrived in town. The relative ease he has at seducing just about every woman he feels the urge to would have been a more powerful attribute were it not for the amount of dream sequences that creep their way into the narrative; so many, in fact, that too much viewer energy goes into wondering whether or not Jake is in his dream world or in reality.

Not helping the cause for coherency is Melissa Painter’s directorial style which adores jump cuts and routinely drops small and large portions of time with sudden edits. Otherwise a superbly executed film from a mise-en-scene standpoint, it’s not that Painter’s is a poor style, but that it doesn’t mesh well with the sudden inclusion of the dream sequences, nor with the heightened surrealism that occasionally accompanies young Jake’s point-of-view. That being said, crystal clarity is not a main concern of Steal Me, and so I can take some dream sequences in stride if I have to.

The power and mystery of the story make it well worth watching, especially as well as it is acted - particularly by Hunter Parrish and Cara Seymour (who previously supported in Adaptation and Hotel Rwanda, and is fast becoming a favorite actress). Steal Me doesn’t place too much importance on either redemption or loss, and certainly doesn’t try to win us over with any great epiphanies. It tells its story, and tells it well, capturing the at once suffocating and expansive atmosphere brilliantly.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11282&reviewer=364
originally posted: 09/14/05 02:35:40
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Florida Film Festival For more in the 2006 Florida Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/19/06 chelsea Just a great movie 4 stars
10/15/06 William Goss Yawn-inducing story of rural klepto has adequate acting and very little else to offer. 2 stars
6/14/06 leon cane "the last picture show" with an edge - Danny Alaxander is heartbreaking 5 stars
11/07/05 Allyson MALEK Captivating story that my friends and I are still talking about. 5 stars
8/30/05 Steve Jaffe Danny Alexander will be a star from this. 5 stars
8/15/05 Marika Tjelios Beautiful and thoughtful with a great soundtrack! 4 stars
2/06/05 lenore evans truly a unique and powerful film - it deserves a theatrical release 5 stars
1/31/05 Kris Compelling story of a boy with no family 4 stars
1/25/05 PolkaBoy Typical Sundance middle America/teen sexuality yawner. 3 stars
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