A painter tracked down her stolen work - the thief was her muse

On April 20, 2015, thieves made off with two paintings by the young Czech painter Barbora Kysilkova, who was exhibiting at Galleri Nobel in Oslo, Norway. And the waythe paintings were stolen was odd: Rather than simply cutting the canvases from their frames, the two thieves removed each staple, in a way that seemed to indicate, as news broadcastsnoted,that one or both of them were professionals. Directed by Benjamin Ree, the film follows Kysilkova and Nordland for several years as they meet, begin to work together, and develop a relationship both as painter and muse and as friends. Meanwhile, Kysilkova struggles to earn enough money to pay rent onher studioand quibbles with her partner, who questions how healthy her interest in Nordland can be. The Painter and the Thief won a prize at Sundance for creative storytelling, and no wonder: It actively challenges what we think we understand about its characters based on their appearance, class markers, or behavior. Whether it’s the way Ree’s camera moves across a painting or the perspective from which he frames and shoots Kysilkova’s and Nordland’s relationship, The Painter and the Thief coaxes its viewers to stop and pay attention to the world in order to learn to love it.