January 22, 1999
Alejandro Saderman's first film, Knocks at My Door, was a compelling, dramatic expose of power, politics, and corruption. Little Thieves, Big Thieves focuses on the banking crisis affecting Venezuela a few years ago, leading to financial ruin for most of the population. The fraudulent swindles of a corrupt establishment were the main cause of the collapse. Saderman deftly envelops this harsh reality with a very entertaining story, which, as the film progresses, becomes more entangled; yet he effortlessly ties it together. Four middle-aged, middle-class childhood friends get together during Christmas to put an end to their desperate financial crisis. They plan to rob a bank, employing the same reasoning that motivates big bankers to rob their own banks. With no previous experience, they are guided only by naivete and sheer guts. The hardships each character endures --family, financial, and social-- seem to justify their endeavor. Horacio is the brains behind the operation, who, with his knowledge of computers, will pull off the heist, or so he assures Valmore, Rogelio, and Vicente, primarily along for the ride. They hit the bank before it opens, but things go awry. The shooting of a commercial on the premises triggers an unforeseen chain of events. Police surround the building, but our protagonists have located files documenting illegal transactions by bank managers and high-ranking government officials. In the ensuing negotiations, we discover power doesn't always have the last word. Their predicament is real, but Saderman's humorous touches add another dimension to the film, keeping the tension buoyant.