It’s Art Heist April on Kat’s Clues! Join me all month long to discover books, movies, and more, all featuring art heists.
A great heist is unlike a regular mystery because it aligns the audience with the criminal. Whether they’re rough and tumble or gentleman (or gentlewoman) cat burglars, we buy into the story from the thief’s point of view. The law enforcement characters are often bumbling, stupid, or vengeful. We have reason not to want justice to win. We like the thief because they are charming, interested in the thing they’re stealing (and not just in its dollar value), and above all intelligent. They’re willing to use that intelligence in daring ways. We want to see them create a plan and set it in motion, watching as its Rube-Goldberg components set each other off and allow the thief–we hope–to make their getaway in the nick of time. And we like watching how they react when things inevitably go wrong.
Here are some great art heist films, with a few bonus non-art heists that are too fun not to mention.
1. The Art of the Steal (2013)
This funny Canadian art heist boasts an ensemble with wonderful chemistry, a few different factions who may or may not be working together or double-crossing each other, and a strong appreciation for the art being stolen. It’s the story of underdog Crunch Calhoun (Kurt Russell), who took the fall for his half-brother Nicky (Matt Dillon at his delightfully sleaziest) during an art forgery gone wrong and lost a few years of his life in a Polish prison. Now he’s back home, working as a motorcycle daredevil (and just as often deliberately crashing for a few extra bucks). When a violent lowlife shows up demanding recompense for a Georges Seurrat painting Nicky stole, Crunch gets the old gang back together again for a classic “one last score” story. It’s a funny movie, with a lot of ad-libbed lines from Crunch’s protege, played in a affably nervous way by Jay Baruchel. The Art of the Steal brings together elements of forgery, con, old-timers mentoring the new generation, humour, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.