The paradox with “Best Thief in the World” is while there is plenty that is taking place on screen when it comes to the story relatively little happens. The thrust of the film is that there is an 11-year old named Izzy who has a single-mom teetering on the edge of maintaining their family. He acts out in response to the strife at home, and among his urban friends, by breaking into people’s apartments in his neighborhood. These two details occur throughout the film, with little in the way of plot taking place.
After following him during a recreational B&E we meet his mother and two younger siblings in their cramped apartment. Mary-Louise Parker is Mom, and her difficulties as an English teacher trying to raise three children is getting worse. Her husband, who suffered a stroke and has been rooming at the hospital, is about to join their crowded unit because the medical coverage is running out. The stress is apparent on Izzy’s mother as the educator of words peppers her dialogue with the children with profanities.
This film focuses primarily on Izzy and his juvenile excursions, and the developments at the home. When we meet young Isaac he already has his system for gaining access down to a science. He buzzes the address and when he gets no response he takes to the fire escape to locate a window to breach. Most of the time, when Izzy gets inside a dwelling, it is not to steal; he makes sandwiches, or riffles through the drawers and the like. Rearranging the furniture to baffle the tenants is all he has in mind with his forays at the start, but as the film moves forward his invasive excursions gradually grow in criminality.
Occasionally the movie offers a poignant moment and a dramatic scene here and there, but this is a largely unfulfilling affair. As interesting as the thought of a young burglar can be, we never get to delve too deeply into the character. His home life is rough and the plight of the mother is tangible, yet beyond that not much is offered. Certainly the young lad’s behavior is the result of a fractured family life. As his home gets more stressful Izzy’s escapades gradually increase in criminality, leading to a fateful climax that is as unfulfilling as it is dramatic.
As much as this sounded like a movie with promise unfortunately it fails to deliver a full blown story. A diversity of action and a development of the plot is definitely what was needed. Instead we are left with is a simple synopsis that barely expands beyond a one sentence description.