Saturday 12 March 2011

Movie Review: The Maiden Heist (2009)

Three security guards at a New York City art gallery are infatuated with the pieces that they are entrusted to protect. Roger (Christopher Walken), nearing retirement, is mesmerized by The Lonely Maiden, a French painting of a melancholy woman on the beach. Charles (Morgan Freeman), old and lonely, is equally enthralled by the painting of a woman with cats. George, a strung-out former Marine proud of his involvement in the Grenada invasion, is obsessed with a bronze statue of a naked warrior -- so much so that George strips naked and mimics the statue's pose when he thinks no one is watching.

When the gallery decides to ship all three pieces to Copenhagen as part of a revamping of the collection, the three men decide to steal the artwork, keeping their favourites for their own enjoyment and shipping fakes to Denmark. Not much goes according to plan, and most of what goes wrong is thanks to unwitting interference by Roger's wife Rose (Marcia Gay Harden), who just wants Roger to take her on a Florida vacation.

The Maiden Heist has the definite feel of a small movie pulled together by three veteran actors and one veteran actress, coming together to create an amiable film almost for their own enjoyment. Director Peter Hewitt, whose other credits are lightweight titles like Garfield (2004), stays far out of the way and allows his stars to have fun. Freeman and Walken emphasize the understated elegance of wisdom, Macy and Harden emphasize the overacting, and the quartet manage to create a reasonable balance.

The Maiden Heist clocks in at exactly 90 minutes including the credits, and while the brisk length has its advantages in terms of pacing, it also means that all the characters are drawn with the broadest of brush strokes.

The catchy music score by Rupert Gregson-Williams has a definite French film tinge to it, playing off the heritage of The Lonely Maiden and Roger's obsession with French art.

The Maiden Heist is enjoyable for the work of Freeman and Walken, two old heads capable of enriching a simple story with entertaining layers of satisfying charm.

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