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The Painter and The Thief Review – Lff 2020

The Painter and The Thief Review – Lff 2020

The Painter and The Thief is the kind of batshit real-life story that practically demands the documentary treatment. The unlikely friendship between artist Barbora Kysilkova and Karl Bertil-Nordland, the drug addict and thief who stole one of her paintings from its gallery in 2015. As their dynamic evolves the story becomes riddled with the kinds of twists and turns that rival most mystery fiction. Yet Benjamin Ree’s documentary tempers its unbelievable story with a humanity and warmth which reveals the best of reality.

To its credit the documentary resists the temptation to frame itself as a kind of mystery around the missing paintings. Establishing quickly that Karl Bertil, high at the time of the theft, has no memory of what happened. Instead The Painter and The Thief is about exactly that, Barbora and Karl Bertil’s relationship as he serves as the subject for a series of her paintings. A

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