Steal Me

Director: Melissa Painter
Screenwriters: Melissa Painter

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


Jake is lost somewhere between boyhood and manhood, existing only on a strong instinct to survive. A loner and a thief, he is proud of his sexual prowess but doesn't have the maturity to cope with its consequences. Searching for the woman who has left him (again), he drifts into a small Montana town and falls in with Tucker, a local boy from a decent ranching family. At Tucker's insistence, his family feeds Jake and eventually takes him into their homes and into their lives. The family Jake comes to inherit is not so much naïve as good-hearted. But is Jake up to the challenge of living a better life?

In Steal Me, the cast works beautifully as an ensemble. The characters may seem humbled by the great western sky and sweeping panoramas, but they are solid at their core. It is refreshing to see rural America portrayed with such a modern lilt. Writer/director Melissa Painter has a keen eye for the gray area between good and bad. Are love and acceptance enough to turn around a damaged childhood? The characters in Steal Me may, in the end, seem an easy target for a boy like Jake, but he will never steal their greatest possessions—decency and family love.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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