Tim Purtell
September 12, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In the ’50s, this French melodrama involving a car heist would have been a taut, noirish thriller. But here the heist is subordinate to a fractured narrative that has four characters — a morally divided detective (Daniel Auteuil), a philosophy professor (Catherine Deneuve), the woman they share (Laurence Cote), and a corrupted young boy (played with feral intensity by Julien Riviere) — recount their versions of events Rashomon-style. The cumulative effect in Thieves is quite haunting. The original wide-screen compositions are lost on video, but surprisingly it’s for the better — the film is more engaging than it was in theaters. And once again (Farrah, take note), Deneuve proves that a sex goddess can age gracefully on screen. B

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