Traveling by train in 1952 Russia, impoverished Katya (Rednikova) and her school-age son Sanya (Philipchuk) meet a handsome war veteran named Tolyan (Mashkov) whose charm and generosity win them over. The three pose as a family, with Tolyan using his army credentials to secure an apartment for them. Still, there is a lot about Tolyan the mother and son simply don't know.
Pavel Chukhraj's Oscar-nominated drama concerns the relationship between a macho pilferer and his new lover, a war widow with a young, impressionable boy in tow. His film speaks to the hardship and harshness of the Stalin years (Tolyan boasts a tattoo of the murderous leader, and teaches Sanya, who longs for a father figure, how to be a "man"). It resolves on a note that suggests the power of forgetting and self-determination. Steal some time with "The Thief."