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  • The Little Thief (In French Language, subtitled in English) [VHS]
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The Little Thief (In French Language, subtitled in English) [VHS]

8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Didier Bezace, Simon de La Brosse, Clotilde de Bayser, Raoul Billerey
  • Directors: Claude Miller
  • Writers: Claude Miller, Annie Miller, Claude de Givray, François Truffaut, Luc Béraud
  • Producers: Alain Vannier, Claude Berri
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: French, English
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: HBO Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: June 6, 1990
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301930606
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,912 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

A project developed by the late François Truffaut but left unrealized by him after his death, The Little Thief was completed by French filmmaker Claude Miller (The Accompanist) and partially revised in script form by several writers. The result is a slight hodgepodge of story ideas about an adolescent girl (a strong performance by Charlotte Gainsbourg) intrigued by adult mysteries, anxious to lose her virginity, and dabbling in petty crimes until she is caught by the law. After a somewhat rocky first act, the film settles into a strong groove and begins to feel very much like Truffaut in his prime. The poignant and witty (if somewhat abrupt) introduction of the idea of the heroine rediscovering the world through a camera lens--and being saved from her wayward existence by the discovery--can't help but make fans of the New Wave pioneer misty-eyed. A good movie, full of ghosts and sweet memories. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Interplanetary Funksmanship on April 15, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
More so than most directors, Francois Truffaut drew on his personal experiences (e.g., "400 Blows") in crafting cinematic tales of the pain and pleasure of growing up. "The Little Thief" began as a script idea of Truffaut's in the 1950s, but had never been realized at the time of his untimely death, in 1984. Janine (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is a 15-year-old girl, growing up poor in postwar France. Janine is in a hurry to grow up. But to Janine, who survived as a street urchin during the Nazi occupation, growing up means stealing and getting away with other such petty crimes and losing her virginity ASAP. After being run out of town by the local gendarmes, Janine goes to work as a maid in a rich couple's house and eventually falls in love with an older, married choirmaster (Didier Bezace), who tries to steer Janine away from crime and towards a productive life. Although she finds sex with him exciting, he is much older and their difference in maturity eventually drives the couple apart. Janine then falls in love with a young man, Raoul (Simon de la Brosse), who is from the lower classes, and influences her to drop out of school in order to pull off a heist during a dinner party held by her employers. After getting arrested and landing in reform school, Janine comes to realize that growing up is not all it is cut out to be. She begins turning her life around when she meets a fellow inmate, who teaches her about photography and darkroom printing. After escaping from the reform school, Janine finds that she is pregnant with Raoul's baby. Again, she wants to run away from her problems, and returns to her hometown to visit a back-alley abortionist. But Janine has no money, so the abortionist demands Janine's twin-reflex camera as payment.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on December 20, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
Truffaut's interesting look at a girl coming of age in the year 1950. She is 16, from a poor family (her mother has run off to Italy leaving her with an aunt and uncle to raise her), and she involves herself in petty thievery to get the things she dreams about from seeing them in the movies. She is in a big hurry to grow up, especially sexually. She becomes a maid and starts an affair with a much older married man; she also meets a boy closer to her own age and starts a relationship with him, too. Both men end up deserting her, the boy after she quits her job, steals for him, gets arrested for it and sent to juvenile prison, AND finds out she's pregnant by him! She arranges for an abortion, but changes her mind and decides to have the baby and start her life anew.

Truffaut's love of the cinema and its "magic" - the music, quick pacing, and loving use of the camera (spiral "highlight" shots, for example) - is very much in evidence here. The tone of the movie, which has every reason to be depressing, never becomes that and is more like the tone a loving relative might assume when revealing the exploits of a favorite misbegotten family member. And in that situation we are usually expected not to ask too many questions or require any moralizing: indeed, a happy ending (of sorts) is plucked from what probably should be ashes. Truffaut goes for a warm, fuzzy feeling and achieves it. Some may argue that he's sacrificed honesty in the process, but truth can come in many different packages. A very pleasant movie-watching experience delivered by a master filmmaker.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sonia on October 19, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
I really liked this story, maybe because it was filmed in my home country and it reminded me of a lot of places and memories.

It is the story of a country girl who was orphaned by war. She becomes a depraved adolescent who is forced to survive on her own. She takes a job as a maid, but she is not a really good one! One can easily understand why : she is a "thief"! She simply has never learned other values than the ones she created for herself. This certainly explains in part why she likes so much to steal, make lies, and occasionally use her charms to get what she wants: after all, these are the only means of surviving that she knows. But despite her innocent appearance (something like a "Snow White"), she is stronger and wiser than she seems. Not so innocent after all?

It was perhaps the first and the best part Charlotte Gainsbourg ever played, to my opinion at least. Although I don't think Charlotte is the greatest French actress of all times, she was young and perfect for the role. Because of her timid and bizarre personality, she was credible as Janine. Unlike Janine, the actress didn't grow up in poverty, neither was she raised in a remote "bourgade" (village) somewhere in a corner of the French "Province"! She was also from a generation who never witnessed the occupation of France during WWII.

People then lived harsh lives in almost constant fear and in constant need. This sort of situation wasn't poetic in France, and can never be anywhere in the world either. The movie depicts, through the story of Janine and her fellow companions, postwar France and the sad repercussions of a conflict on people. BUT, fortunately, there is hope and some love at the end.
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Format: VHS Tape
Directed by Claude Miller but based upon an unfinished script by the Great Francois Truffaut tragically because Truffaut died before he could direct it himself. I was 11 when I saw it on a subtitled VHS copy and thus the first time I fell in love with Charlotte Gainsbourg who plays the central character Janine Castang and is so great and lovely in the film she was nominated for a Caesar Award For Best Actress and at just 15-16 years old can't seem to understand why this film is not available on DVD. It is a great cinematic piece that shows an important lost period of Post World War II French History, with every scene of Art Direction authentic. The story is great. Charlotte plays a bored under privileged and love starved pre-teen, about the same as I was when I saw it, who resorts to stealing and living her life through the Films playing at the local Cinema. Who can't relate to her? She is alone, I.e. living with Aunt and Uncles who treat her just as such, distant relatives. After many times of being caught stealing she is sent away to become a live in maid for priggish rich folks. Until an older gentleman Professor shows an interest in her disguised as love. And she see's the relationship this way from all the love she learnt from the many story book films she yearned to one day live out. I think there is an after love scene which shows her topless for a few seconds, but by no means perverse nor sexual, just truthful. After which she realizes this man is not interested in giving her the love she craves and deserves. After many painstaking heart blows she begins to grow into her own reality and finds what she so much deservingly and UNKNOWINGLY has been missing through her adolescent search for love and acceptance. A very uplifting film. And way worth putting out an Official DVD version in honor of at least Francois Truffaut's last attempt at his grand story telling.
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