Beguiling goof “The Orange Thief” is a sort of traditional Sicilian musical heavily indebted in style and flavor to the trademark deadpan of Jim Jarmusch. A big fave for Mill Valley and Woodstock fest auds, it will please some but strike others as a genial one-joke concept waaaaaaay overstretched at feature length. Nonetheless, its slender charms are sufficient to court further fest travel and possible specialized home-format release.
Made “exquisite corpse” style — inexperienced writer-director-editors shot independent of each other, proceeding only after each approved the last one’s work — pic’s fablelike storyline is nonetheless simple to a fault. Titular parentless foundling (Andrea Calabrese) grows up having to steal to exist, and yearning for land he can call his own. During a jail stint, he meets murderer Turrido (Allessio Giottoli), who demands the soon-to-be-released thief record his erstwhile fiancee Rosalba’s (Micaela Helvetica Saxer) song stylings. She proves resistant. Sicilian folksongs performed are arresting and funny; minimalist visual aesthetic is handsome. But nonpro perfs are stonily one-dimensional, slight story is poky and repetitive. Pic trusts its focus on close-mouthed, stereotyped Sicilian machismo (even among the female characters) to be endlessly hilarious.