Entertainment

Watch a Gorgeous Clip from the Wild Doc 'The Painter and the Thief'

The documentary, available on Hulu, is one of the best of the year.

One of the most exruciatingly intense relationships you'll see on screen all year is not a work of fiction. Instead, it's the connection at the heart of The Painter and the Thief, one of the best documentaries of the year. The film, directed by Benjamin Ree, depicts the strange tango that unfolds in Norway between an artist, Barbora Kysilkova, and the junkie who stole one of her works, Karl-Bertil Nordland. Seeking answers about what became of her missing paintings, Barbora reaches out to Karl-Bertil. He cannot remember what became of the art, but he becomes her friend and muse. In the above clip, which we at Thrillist are exclusively debuting, Barbora sketches Karl-Bertil as he describes her dark style.

painter and the thief
Neon

Ree allows his subjects to tell each other's stories, so the audience gets a sense of how they perceive and are being perceived. The director almost creates a hall of mirrors wherein these two people keep reflecting back on one another. The Painter and the Thief is less a mystery about what happened when Karl-Bertil committed that fateful crime, but more the story of a friendship, which is at times supportive and parasitic. Barbora is attracted to the wells of pain Karl-Bertil wears so plainly, but through her eyes Karl-Bertil makes strides to reinvent himself and heal. It plays often like a narrative film: thrilling, upsetting, and running on the almost undefinable (sometimes sexual) chemistry of the two people at its center. 

The Painter and the Thief, which premiered at Sundance, will be available Friday on Hulu, VOD, or via a "virtual cinema," where you can watch and support an independent theater like the Angelika in New York.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.