‘Little Thief’ starts with a typical weekday morning scenario – a couple oversleeps, and they both find themselves in a hurry to perform their morning routine and get to work on time. Emma asks Leo whether he’d like to call in sick for work and spend the day with her – however, Leo can’t afford to do so, on account of going through a demanding time at his workplace. The two instead schedule a date for the evening.
It is only after this expository episode that one truly uncovers the dystopian nature of the short film written and directed by Xavier Guignard. The premise around which an alternate organization of society has apparently developed is the declining proportion of males in society – a statistic provided at one point in the film, cleverly placed for maximum impact, estimates this to be down to 16% of the overall population. Indeed, a slight hint of 'The Clockwork Orange' can be felt at various times throughout the story set in a dystopian London, and yet, once this particular detail transpires, things start to click together.
The film crafts beginnings in many directions, providing expositions to a wealth of scenarios that can be further constructed by the viewer’s imagination but concentrates on one of these – the relationship between Leo and Emma. They reciprocally state their devotion for one another, and yet, with almost 9 in 10 people that Leo encounters in life being female, he has a hard time upholding his vows. Emma is not naïve, however, and has a cleverly-crafted plan ready to implement when the need arises.
‘Little Thief’ offers a fantastic premise, one which raises a lot of intriguing questions relating to sociology and human nature, and would find itself at home in-between the somewhat similarly nuanced sci-fi scenarios in Kurt Vonnegut’s short story collection titled ‘Welcome to the Monkey House’. One additional shared element is the attitude of both of these to take the context for granted – indeed, ‘Little Thief’ does not explain why this situation exists, but instead goes right into its attempt to build a story around it. While we were certainly not bothered by this consideration, we can see how other viewers might be less lenient with the premise’s presentation.
While the originality of the context is certainly to be appreciated and praised, the creativity showcased with regard to the main story itself is less inspiring. This is not to say that the plot is mundane or predictable – it is definitely not so – but still, it doesn’t manage to evade from the typical tropes quite enough to be truly remarkable. Indeed, this could be partly explained by the film’s insistence not to hold its viewers’ hands and guide them through, but instead offer them a larger perspective and letting them do whatever they please with it. And while this is admirable, it still lacks a “je-ne-sais-quoi” element that further spices up the plot and really sets it apart.
These minor considerations are, however, all we could sharply criticise about Xavier Guignard’s work.
‘Little Thief’ is a film that immediately establishes its own style, flow and distinctive personality. Furthermore, it’s beautifully shot, fantastically acted and constitutes a real treat to the eyes and the mind alike.
All in all, a wonderful achievement!