Based on a story by François Truffaut (who died before he could direct it) and Claude de Givray, this post–World War II portrait of wayward youth plays not unlike a female-driven version of The 400 Blows. Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as the titular kleptomaniac, a distaff Antoine Doinel who, with her bad-boy lover, descends into a life of crime before landing in a hellish reformatory. Reunited with L’Effrontée director Claude Miller, Gainsbourg (who was nominated for a Best Actress César Award) delivers a fascinatingly enigmatic performance, at once open and opaque. With The Little Thief she blossomed into a truly compelling screen presence.
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