Mihriban Yalinkilic’s The Thief is a short film that explores the dynamics of a friendship between two men. In a short span of just under five minutes, the film manages to illustrate tragicomic elements of the friendship through an intriguing mix of wit and sentimentality. It encapsulates the realities and mundanity of conflicts that everyone experiences.
The story presents two middle-aged men, namely Steve and Brandon. They meet in an old-town piazza, with an empty polka-dotted box providing the pretext for their confrontation. A sense of the unknown pervades the scene, as the camera cuts to a wide shot. Their conversation later reveals the mysterious disappearance of ‘Chuck’, which could be linked with the box... Steve and Brandon interact with each other as if trying to make sense of the situation and, hopefully, find a resolution.
With medium close-ups, and full shots, the film at times resembles a cowboy standoff from a Sergio Leone western, the camera working well to help progress the plot, with the dialogue seamlessly complementing the positioning and framing of the characters. There is also a good amount of lighting in the film that commands clarity, colour, and brightness, which are essential for visualising the storyline, as well as allowing viewers to follow the action.
However, the film is relatively fast-paced and the plot details seem, at times, to be inadequate in cohering towards a satisfying conclusion. The film leaves us abruptly with a list of questions, the viewer provided with little evidence of a resolution. When Steve and Brandon leave the scene with a bouquet, a smashed egg, and a vacant bench, viewers are left to question whether the friendship between the characters persists. Perhaps the emptiness in the last shot is Yalinkilic’s way of engaging with viewers, making them ponder the true message of the film and how it resonates with the title itself. This provocation does, however, adequately convey the essence of unresolved conflicts and the time needed for reconciliation.
'The Thief' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2020.