This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
Michel is released from jail after serving a sentence for thievery. His mother dies and he resorts to pickpocketing as a means of survival.
So after the overwhelming satisfaction I found with Bresson's A Man Escaped, I immediately dove into his next chronological work Pickpocket. With a brisk 75 minute running time and an intriguing premise, I expected to have the same response that I had with his previous work. Whilst I didn't have the immediate affection for this film as I had for A Man Escaped, I have wrestled with it more after the fact to the point that it is showing it's true colours and I am very eager to watch it again.
With Bresson, one must adjust the way they read and understand film, and it helps to recognise his techniques. He throws convention out the window and strips away what…
Well I must say it's very nice of Pickpocket to start off by telling us it's not a thriller.
I'm slightly pissed off by that opening. It could be because I'm over-tired and annoyed and possibly being over-sensitive, but there's a slightly sneery tone behind it that almost smacks to me as suggesting that it would be beneath this film to be labelled a mere thriller. It's a really odd and stand-offish way to start a film, I must admit, and while I suppose in one way I do slightly appreciate its honesty, I think it could have done me a big favour in furthering that honesty.
"This is a…
A film that defies star ratings. Deeply unsettling. I still don't know if I love it, but I do know that it's absolutely brilliant.
"Can we not admit that certain skilled men, gifted with intelligence, talent or even genius, and thus indispensable to society, rather than stagnate, should be free to disobey laws in certain cases?" ~ Michel
If dourness can be beautiful and numbness artistic, then Robert Bresson is the writer-director to make it so. I watched this just a couple of days after viewing his Diary of a Country Priest, and the similarities are striking. There's the same laconic, solitary central figure -- this time a thief named Michel played by lanky Martin LaSalle -- and there's the recording of personal thoughts in a journal. Although this film takes place in Paris among lots of people, Michel is just as alone in…
A suit that's slightly too large. Impassive eyes that hold yours just past the point of comfort and suddenly drop. Delicately roving hands that slide over a cuff, a button, a purse clasp, and slip inward - or shy away.
I'm not sure when I've been more uncomfortable in the company of a protagonist. Watching him is like an experience of repeatedly, accidentally catching someone masturbating - and then we both walk away, pretending no one saw such a private compulsion made public.
In the final moments, the impassive eyes change; they are less secretive, hidden; there is, even, an open, innocent eagerness. My discomfort drops for the first time.
But then, "Fin." What has that last scene resolved? I am not sure.
A.V. Club review. Try as I might, I can't make the final line reverberate back through the entire film, which is what would need to happen for it to have the ecstatic effect Bresson clearly intends. Had enormous difficulty addressing that very personal reaction in the review while simultaneously acknowledging Pickpocket's importance and the fact that many people consider its ending one of cinema's greatest, which is one of several reasons why I think a blanket ban on the use of first person is wrongheaded. (Hi various editors!)
Fantastic. I don't know how far back you'd have to go to get the social issues brought up in the film in such a realistic way, sympathetic to the plight of the poor and the petty criminals, but I'm sure this was groundbreaking on arrival.
Should have been titled 'Sociopath' amirite?
When watching Bresson's films, how often do you find you've been holding your breath without realising?
I've only recently delved deeply into Bresson after seeing Balthazar and A Man Escaped some years ago. Like both of those, and the others I've seen since, Pickpocket is sublime. I love the performances from the nonprofessionals. I love the heightened methods used by the thieves (Bresson again reveling in the technique and procedure involved). I love how Michel and Jacques communicate with meaningful pauses, looks and reactions more than words. I love the knife edge tension (you feel that at any moment Michel's world could collapse, but you don't know how he'd feel about that). I love the formal simplicity and austerity, the ascetic quality that seeems to permeate all Bresson's work. I think I just love Bresson!
Watching films from the Criterion Collection on Hulu instead of whatever garbage movies happen to be on Netflix is reminding me why I enjoyed cinema in the first place. Unfortunately my Hulu free trial is ending and there is a lot of garbage on Netflix I still want to see so I think there will be a lot more 2-star reviews coming again in the near future.
I enjoyed the style of Pickpocket and while the acting left something to be desired, it didn't really detract from the film much, it actually gave it something of a realistic feel.
A watered-down version of Dostoyevsky's novel. Not a bad movie.
I've heard people talk about how the acting in Bresson films are bad. Well I actually love the acting. Especially for this film and what it is about. An emotionless face, speaks to the character of a person, and for Michel (the pickpocketer) it works perfectly. He is a mystery, a man of many secrets, discrete. Also the use of his eyes, especially in the pickpocketing scenes are thrilling, even though Bresson introduced the film as a non thriller.
I loved this film, and I would pick some pockets in a heartbeat if it meant Jeanne would fall in love with me. She was stunningly gorgeous.
"Can we not admit that certain skilled men, gifted with talent, intelligence or even genius, and thus indispensable to society, rather than stagnate, should be free to disobey certain laws?"
Bresson cast non-actor Martin LaSalle in the role of the pickpocket. He delivers and incredible performance which, while seemingly free of emotion is presented almost entirely through his incredible, expressive eyes.
I somehow think he was cast partly for that and partly for his exquisite, long fingers which dance across the frame in perfectly choreographed scenes of lifting watches, wallets, cash and other small valuables.
Michel's crimes never rise to anything more than simple petty theft but there is a kind of narcissism to him -- the kind that perhaps inspires narcissism in pop culture's more hardened criminals (I'm looking at you, Walter White.)
The more he succeeds, the more audacious he gets, the more he thinks himself exceptional.
Pickpocket isn't a bad film, but man is it BORING AS FUCK
There was a point where I got so disinterested I just started watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Maybe I'll like the rest of Bresson's filmography more.
This one definitely wasn't my cup of tea.
Pickpocket’s central character, Michel (played by the Uruguayan nonactor Martin LaSalle), is merely a petty thief. His crimes never rise above the level of common, small-time transgression. They are enlarged to epic scale only by his neurasthenic imagination. His decision to tempt exposure and shame on a daily basis is a difficult one, but not because he wonders, whether he’s truly capable of it. It isn’t monstrous to steal. And its drastic punishment is more wicked than the crime.
The story is told in the form of a diary and this structure emphasizes the character’s internal struggle. In terms of camera style, long takes are used infrequently and camera movements are almost exclusively motivated by character movement.
Bresson’s characteristic style…
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