Today: June 12, 2024

Light Thief, The

One of the great things about world cinema is you get insights into different cultures that you don’t always get from documentaries, which are usually an outside-looking-in view.

One of the great things about world cinema is you get insights into different cultures that you don’t always get from documentaries, which are usually an outside-looking-in view. Additional depth is given to fictional films by incorporating the storytelling traditions and local humour that outside filmmakers would rarely be able to capture faithfully. Award-winning writer-director-actor Aktan Arym Kubat’s film perfectly epitomises this, as its story tells us more about village life in Kyrgyztan, a small republic of the former USSR that neighbours the better-known Kazakhstan, than most factual films could.

Mr Light (Kubat) is the local electrician who helps the poorer people of his village by illegally hooking them up to the patchy electricity supply (a common practise in Asia) or tampering with their meters. He has also invented a wind-powered generator that he wants to build to give the village free power, but he has to deal with corrupt officials who want to profit from the village’s status.

Kubat is totally charming in the lead role, supported by a cast giving very natural performances, and settings that are stunning in their starkness. Although the film is an intriguing look into a little-known culture, made up of fascinating and entertaining vignettes of rural life, the story has a moral but lacks cohesion and a clear resolution. Enigmatic endings are always a refreshing change from contrived, predictable Hollywood ones, but leaving the audience confused does undo any good work that has gone beforehand.

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