Is this a good take on the idea of taking one’s own clothes from home? Just where the loose ends of a true tale in which a burglar is caught in the act he left no trace, do any of the important pieces of evidence exist? The latter question of course the more pertinent. Directed by the usually trustworthy Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi, “Honest Thief” is a case of a mildly engaging misfire.
The film stars Mahira Khan (“Mera Naam Joker”) and Aamir Qureshi as Omer and Shama, two friends from the city of Qattamar that likes to celebrate an unhappy ending. Their relationship is platonic, sometimes even closer than brotherly, but also combustible, with occasional violence. At least the violence has the satisfaction of leaving a mark.
The burglars’ address is the one in which they break in, so the thieves/baddies — they nicknames Omer and Shama — go about the perfect business of theft: they re-open locked doors or slip into a spare room and take advantage of an air conditioning system operating just so to steal valuables that disappear just as easily. It goes on. Fast. And for longer than viewers could care to know.
“Honest Thief” is not very engaging when it tries to be. Screenwriters I. Worsley and Kristopher Kruskal show a lack of imagination in building suspense for the event, as we know what happens (the aftermath). The hero/lady of the house feels abandoned by society’s malevolence, but doesn’t seem to be able to stop a genocidal rampage, so there’s a dearth of tension. That’s understandable, but there is precious little to it. Khan’s character is plodding, Qureshi’s is less effective.
Kuhsnal’s sound design is strong, and both actresses, in their first independent feature appearance, seem surprisingly convincing in what is largely an emotional misfire. When the camera hangs on their stories long enough, they give insight into their experience of violence. With insight comes a source of suspense.