Street Thief

Street Thief

I just watched Street Thief, a 2006 independent film by director (and lead) Malik Bader that purports to be a documentary*, following a professional burglar through his life and through the commission of several of his crimes. Bader is engaging and likable, despite his character’s decidedly anti-social profession. And the filmmakers have assured interviewers that the crimes presented are entirely realistic. That realism is aided by the real settings used around Chicago — in terms of setting, the movie feels right.

Without being heavy-handed, there are also some questions being raised by the film about the current state of documentary film and journalism, and perhaps about our celebrity-obsessed culture. Why else would a criminal like Kasper Carr consent to being filmed committing crimes? And what of the documentary crew — have they crossed a line when they accompany Carr into a building during a robbery? Have they crossed the line from observing to abetting?

There are few speaking roles in the movie other than Bader’s, but Wesley Walker does a great turn as an incarcerated thief interviewed by the documentarians.

* Evidently, this film has been shown at some film festivals as though it were a straight documentary, with inevitable backlash when the deception is discovered. It’s a shame that the filmmakers have let a gimmick like that cloud the reputation of a fine indie film.

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