Pickpocket ★★★★½

The austerity didn’t wear thin with me. I think it’s because there were these brief moments which you couldn’t ever call austere; for a minute or two, now and again, the patient minimalism of the rest of the film drops away. Hands dance, bodies turn, wallets vanish, and faces betray the joy that comes with competence. Then it’s back to Michel‘s life of desperation.

It doesn’t always work. The arc of the film ends in the jail cell with the ecstatic love of Michel and Jeanne. I can’t connect those dots; as lovely as Jeanne is, it’s not clear to me that she equals the thrill of pickpocketing. The entire movie has shown us how theft is Michel’s relief from the quotidian. He couldn’t even stay on the straight and narrow for her. And now she’s the equal of his first love, the new center of his life?

Well, maybe. But I prefer to believe that Michel’s not caught between love and crime; he’s just trapped by his own fierce need to be a special man. Perhaps he’ll find happiness with Jeanne as long as she thinks of him that way.

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