The Best Thief in the World

Director: Jacob Kornbluth
Screenwriters: Jacob Kornbluth


Jacob Kornbluth returns to Sundance with a poignant tale of a family in crisis. Dad has suffered a stroke, and Mom's job as an English teacher barely pays the rent, especially with the added burden of three children. Her will to survive is palpable as she struggles with an unforgiving medical system and copes with a child teetering on adolescence. Izzy, the eldest, is definitely acting out. He tests every limit by stealing and breaking into apartments, although sometimes just to rearrange the furniture. It's as if retreating into other people's lives will help him make sense of his own.

Assured and insightful, Kornbluth allows the quirkiness of his film to override the obvious tragedies. The humor bubbles up through the asphalt, enriching this portrait of home life carved from the urban landscape. Mary-Louise Parker leads an excellent cast with her intriguing blend of dry wit and tender endurance. It is rare when the characters of children have this much integrity in a film. But this is exactly Kornbluth's point. In Izzy, he reveals the inner workings of "boy," facing adulthood without totally losing his innocence. The Best Thief in the World opens a window into an authentic and original view of an American institution—the modern family.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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