By Daniel Wible | January 28, 2005

In a Sundance overflowing with great shorts, “Among Thieves” stands out as one of the best. A riveting tale of betrayal, loyalty, and compassion, Oscar Daniels’s superb character study/thriller is about the unusual relationship that develops between an armed robber on the lam and a dying old woman. After leaving his injured buddy at the scene of a botched robbery attempt, Travelle (dynamically portrayed by Rashawn Underdue) hides out in a home inhabited by the badly suffering woman and her cruel nursemaid/baby sitter. At first only interested in avoiding the cops and hitting up the old lady’s cash reserves, which are long gone, Travelle unexpectedly starts to feel for her, as she stares up at him so helplessly and pathetically from her bed, hoping only to be freed from her pain. In the film’s most pivotal (and beautiful) moment, the thug is forced to reconcile his thug mentality with a budding sense of human compassion and selfless kindness. Highlighted by an extraordinary, Denzel-worthy performance by Underdue, “Among Thieves” avoids cheap sentimentality while still landing a potent shot to the heart.

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