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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Painter and the Thief

Amazing story full of surprises

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 9, 2020 – Most films are fairly predictable. You can predict the entire plot of many films simply by watching the trailer, but documentaries are less predictable since they capture real life events, which are often quite different than movie plots.

This particular documentary is even less predictable than most documentaries. The story elements are very surprising. The plot twists in this film are astonishing. Just when you think you can't be surprised again, another surprising twist shows up.

Part of the surprise is due to the fact that the two main characters in the film, the painter, Barbora Kysilkova, and the thief, Karl Bertil-Nordland are both very unusual people with complicated backgrounds. Another thing that makes the story hard to predict is that it happens in Oslo, Norway, a country and a society quite different from the one I am used to in the United States.

Norwegian society, at least as portrayed in this film, seems to embody more traditional Christian values such as the “golden rule,” mercy, forgiveness, the worth of human life (not dependent on wealth, social background, race, or legal status as it is in the U.S.). There also seems not to be much of an urge for vengeance. In the U.S., most people pay lip service to Christian values, but often behave quite differently.

People in Norway seem to embody the idea that each of us has a duty to care for everyone else, not just friends and family and others we deem worthy of help. In the U.S. the attitude is “You are on your own,” while the people in this movie act as though “we are all in this together.”

Another reason this movie is surprising is because of the approach of the filmmaker, Benjamin Ree, who had no idea where the story was going. He was simply interested in art thefts, and picked this one when Karl Bertil-Nordland took one of Barbora Kysilkova's photo-realistic paintings from an art gallery.

Karl is identified from video surveillance and was quickly captured. He said he was on drugs at the time and cannot remember what he did with Barbora's painting. Barbora goes to see Karl and is immediately disarmed by the seemingly vulnerable and sensitive nature of the thief. When she asks him why he stole her painting, he replies he did so because it was beautiful.

Karl's reaction to a portrait of him that Barbora did is both moving and surprising. Barbora's own reaction to one of her own stolen paintings that she recovers is equally amazing and moving. The relationship that develops between Barbora and Karl is unique and fascinating.

The movie goes on to show us Barbora's emotional journey from Karl's perspective, and it shows us Karl's equally bumpy and eventful journey as well, including his time spent in a remarkable prison that features actual rehabilitation, not just rehabilitation in name only. This is a fascinating film that is chock full of surprises. This movie rates an A.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2020 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]