Robert Bresson's quiet, understated tales can take a little getting used to. Don't expect any loud explosions, character development, or in some of his cases, any kind of closure at all. A leap of faith is needed, and ultimately rewarded, and 'Pickpocket' remains one of the French master's finest films.
A young man named Michel (Martin Lasalle) becomes disaffected with life and embarks upon a pickpocketing crime spree. After several botched attempts, he hones his skills to perfection, performing several wallet heists so audacious, they would have the artful dodger green eyed with envy. But soon he attracts the eye of not only the law, but a local crime syndicate as well, and the prison bars are hovering too close for comfort.
Pickpocket's true masterstroke is how Michel becomes almost sociopathic in his ventures. By the end, stealing for the thrill instead of financial gain, he seemingly invites the police to come and find him. And the scenes of pickpocketing are truly breathtaking. Michel may be a criminal, but you'll be behind him all the way, desperate for him to not get caught. His canny, virtuoso techniques will have you on the edge of your seat, putting all of Hollywood's derivative action movies to shame.
And by the end, his nimble fingers can do no more good, and a woman's love may be his only salvation.
Received rather poorly in its heyday, Pickpocket stands the test of time with distinction. At only 73 minutes, this absolutely flies by, leaving you desperate for more. And Bresson, ever the master, refuses to let the proceedings get bogged down with sentimentality. Truly one of the greatest films i've ever seen, and you should see it too.
The extras are ace as well. A wonderful 5 minute interview with Bresson sees him answer difficult questions with an intelligence clearly years ahead of his time. Plus tons of retrospective interviews with the original cast and various perspectives on the film itself. Absolute gold.