Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, The
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Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, The

A look into the life of one of the world's most infamous jewel thieves, now 81 years old.



Friday, April 26, 7 p.m.
Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond Street West)

Sunday, April 28, 4 p.m.
ROM Theatre (100 Queens Park)

Wednesday, May 1, 1:30 p.m.
Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond Street West)

Like so many young girls, Doris Payne wanted to be a ballerina when she was young. Unfortunately, at the time, racial barriers wouldn’t allow women of colour to dance in the prestigious ballet companies of the world. So she found another way of supporting herself, and, eventually, her two kids: jewel theft.

At 81 years old, Doris Payne has stolen a total of $2 million worth of diamonds and jewellery (that she admits to), but a recent robbery has her facing five years in prison, a jail sentence that would in effect be a death sentence as well. This documentary looks at Payne—now living in a halfway home, where her health is declining in tandem with her bank account—and her life as a thief.

Payne is a feisty character, and her interviews make it easy to believe she conned, sweet-talked, and slipped her way past authorities for over 60 years. Her concerned best friend Jean is also charming. But in the end, court cases don’t make for stunning visual storytelling, and the directors overcompensate by adding in cheesy shots of jewels and dramatizations that look like ’80s glamour shots in motion. And though the film makes an effort to turn Payne into a sympathetic character, she never gets there. The audience knows from the get-go that the con is on.

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