Home > Art & Music, Written Reviews, Written Reviews > “THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF” Art and Non-Fiction




Review by John Delia

A very odd documentary, The Painter and the Thief tells an offbeat accounting of a theft and a relationship with the thief. Quite interesting however, the film plays out like a drama looking for answers and finding an unexpected connection instead. If you are a fan of non-fiction and would like to delve into the reasoning and outcome, then try this film now available on VOD and other platforms.

Gifted Norwegian painter Barbora Kysilkova has been working on several paintings almost photograph like of birds, people and other subjects with hopes of a showing at an important gallery. Putting two of her larger works in the window of her studio/store has brought her a lot of attention. However, one day when she comes to her studio she finds the two huge paintings gone, stripped from their frames by thieves.

Barbora Kysilkova, The Painter, The Subject Karl- Bertil Nordland in THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF from Neon

When the police locate one of the perpetrators, Karl-Bertil Nordland, she contacts him and decides to document her interview. Taking it a step further she asks the man to be the subject of a future group of paintings that she would eventually show in a gallery. When she realizes that the man emanates more than just a friendship that they have started, Kysilkova’s life takes an unexpected turn.

Director and confidant Benjamin Ree does of very good job of making the film more of a drama and a sensual interlude fit for theatrical showings. Nordland pours out his life to the painter and she in turn starts to find solace in putting his image on canvas. Ree keeps his camera rolling with each meeting with the two and also follows up on the stories from Nordland involving his past as a person who has been lost to society most of his life.

Karl- Bertil Nordland in THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF from Neon

Well filmed and directed the movie has a lot of strength in its subjects, the art and challenges that Kysilkova took to make her own life a part of an open book. Throughout the film you are treated to her brilliance, pathos, and determination to turn Nordland around from his life of drugs and degradation. In return, changes within her make the art explosive and amazing.

The Painter and the Thief has not been rated, but contains language, smoking and drug use. Available on Amazon, Apple TV, Fandango Now, Google Play, Vudu, and VOD

FINAL ANALSYS: a good film for those who would like something different. (3 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Barbora Kysilkova, The Painter, The subject Karl- Bertil Nordland
Directed by: Benjamin Ree
Genre: Documentary (Winner special Jury Award Sundance Film Festival)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated,language, smoking, drug use
Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.
Opening Date: May 22, 2020
Distributed by: Neon
Released in:  Amazon, Apple TV, Fandango Now, Google Play, Vudu, and VOD.

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