The Light Thief

Film, Drama
3 out of 5 stars
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In the opening scenes of this moving drama from Kyrgyzstan, an electrician in a remote village is arrested. Known to locals as Mr Light, he’s been siphoning electricity from the mains for his poor neighbours. Carted off to prison, Mr Light is saved by a chaotic government coup (presumably the country’s 2005 Tulip Revolution) and released. What follows is a mostly affectionate portrait of rural life.

And yet director Aktan Arym Kubat smuggles in a bitter truth: that you can get rid of one corrupt oppressor, but be watchful for the next one waiting in the wings. Here it’s buccaneering free-marketer Bekzat (Askat Sulaimanov), a local boy made good, back in his 4x4 to flog land to the Chinese. Director Kubat stars as Mr Light (the rest of the actors are mostly non-pros), giving a performance of profound warmth and humanity.

A beaming Buddha, Mr Light is a dreamer with big plans to bring wind power to his village – and he trusts Bekzat at his word when he promises to help. Mr Light’s friend the mayor is a shrewder judge of character: ‘You pillage our country like jackals and you pose as benefactors.’
A sense of impending calamity ratchets up amid the expected twists of village life: a little boy stuck up a tree; a funeral; a game of ulak tartish, a polo-like sport without mallets that uses a dead goat as a ball. Like fox hunting, the game seems like a remnant from more savage times, but in a final gesture of awful clarity, Kubat proves that our own times can be equally barbarous.

By: Cath Clarke

Posted:

Release details

Rated:
15
Release date:
Friday July 29 2011
Duration:
80 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Aktan Arym Kubat
Screenwriter:
Aktan Arym Kubat
Cast:
Aktan Arym Kubat
Askat Sulaimanov
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