The Best Thief in the World


Bottom 40% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2004 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Dramatic Competition


Mary-Louise Parker, Michael Silverman, David Wurshofsky, Audra McDonald, Lois Smith, Margo Martisdale

Non-Cast Credits

Jacob Kornbluth, Tim Perell, Nicola Unhorse, Howard Gnrtler, Scott Koenig, Ben Kutchins, Anthony Gusparro, Prince Paul, Donald Newkirk


Jacob Kornbluth returns to Sundance with a poignant tale of a family in crisis. Dad has suffered a stroke, and Moms 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. Its as if retreating into other peoples lines 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 Kornbluths 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 institutionthe modern family.


John Cooper (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Deconstructing Sundance | Abusing Statistics Since 2006