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on 7 January 2010
The film is spare, secular, discreet, humane, and the best review I've read is of J.Hoberman of Village Voice': There's something almost medieval about it. The city is inhabited by angels--fallen and otherwise.' In my view it's true. It's a philosophical treatise in film format.

Perhaps there is the Calvinist grace in it, perhaps not. It's also about humility, reason and love.

Last, it's surely about film as art, as is the case with all great films.
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on 10 March 2009
Anyone who has enjoyed another Bresson film is likely to enjoy this too. It creates a similar tension to "A Man Escaped" - from totally different subject matter. The world of the pickpocket is evoked and explored with almost documentary precision, and yet the interest in the individuals remains paramount.

For those who do not know Bresson's very distinctive methods, this is an excellent place to start. The DVD is a fine print and transfer, and the extras are among the most substantial I have come across in any release: an interview with Bresson, a recent documentary featuring the main "stars," and an archival clip showing the theatre-circus performance of a conjurer whom Bresson used as one his pickpockets.

Altogether, a treasurable piece of cinema history.
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on 12 February 2008
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.
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on 29 March 2007
Quite absorbing character study focusing on one man's addiction to petty crime.The film follows him from his early forays into pickpocketing to a level of skill that consumes him completely in the pursuit of illicit gain.But then he becomes noticed...

Based on Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, Bresson's minimalist style compliments (as it has to ) the limitations of his non-professional cast. He believed that trained actors brought false emotions whereas non actors came with a heightened sense of realism and emotional honesty.This theory works far better here than in say L'Argent but it is an acquired taste.

Striking location work adds immensely to the film's appeal.
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on 19 September 2014
Great film, gripping, worth every penny.
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on 15 March 2006
This is an odd movie. If it had been made in the UK or USA, you'd probably have given up after 15mins. The protagonist takes up picking pockets because he cant be bothered to et a job. The pickpocketing scenes are great and very tense. All well and good. But everything else in his world is spectacularly unreal. The 1st thing you notice is that nobody talks on the sound track except the movies' main characters. You're on the metro, in a bank, or at the racetrack - nobody speaks. It creates a very enclosed and claustraphobic atmosphere. You might argue that that's all to the good, except theres a nagging doubt that its just not very well directed, and that is reinforced by watching the behaviour of the 3 or 4 other main characters who are just cyphers, dummies who mouth the lines devoid of any emotion. Even when the subject of the dialogue begs for emotional reaction. Why the beautiful love interest would fall for the pickpocket after the way he treats her, is beyond me. Even in 1959 Paris, at the height of existential fashion, you'd want her to have a bit more spunk about her. The film just about gets away with it because Martin LaSalle is a pretty class act and has one of thise faces that makes him believable. Poor script medocre directiing( good editing and photography) but still quite compelling
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on 11 August 2007
"Pickpocket" (1959), directed by Robert Bresson, is inspired in a novel written by Dostoievsky, "Crime and punishment". This film tells us the story of Michel (Martin LaSalle), a young and very self-absorbed man that becomes a thief not out of need, but rather seduced by the possibility of being one.

Bresson follows Michel's path, and allows us to be privy to his thoughts, as he tries to decide what to do with his life, and how to avoid being captured by the police. Michel has an opportunity of redemption, but will he take it?

In my opinion, watching "Pickpocket" is worth your time, because it is a film that convincingly depicts how a young man justifies his criminal leanings, and the ever-present possibility of change, if we care enough to take it.

Belen Alcat
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on 6 November 2010
Typical french exercise in trying to elevate criminality into an intellectual pursuit on a higher plane,or the mantel of an ambivalent protagonist's sheen of ultra-cool.
Either way,you have to like the lead roles,which are either played by indifferent bums who are adored by the female lead or as in this case,what seems like an amoebic brained characterless zombie who looks like a heavily tranquilised Henry Fonda spending his whole time looking as if he's stepping forward to get to his correct position before delivering his utterly vacant lines.
Quite dreadful acting which strips you of any motivation in caring about this character-regardless of how well it may be filmed. Avoid.
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on 5 September 2014
Very slow. Was a little disappointed. Not as noirish as I expected. Still worth watching, nevertheless.
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PICKPOCKET, (1959). This stylized film, a 75 minute black and white crime drama, follows a Parisian pickpocket named Michel, who develops a compulsion to steal, at which is he largely successful. It was written and directed by the greatly admired French painter turned film director Robert Bresson, (A Man Escaped ,Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne ), and is considered a classic of French cinema.

Michel, played by Martin LaSalle, largely ignores his aging mother, played by Dolly Scal, except to steal from her. His mother is looked after by a caring neighbor, Jeanne, played by Marika Green. The wilful thief ignores the well-meant advice of his friend Jacques, played by Pierre Leymarie. But Michel enjoys fencing with, and quoting the brilliant Russian novel CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, with L'Inspecteur principal, a chief inspector of Paris police, played by Jean Pelegri, who is on his case. Michel studies the book PRINCE OF PICKPOCKETS (1930), a biography of the Irish pickpocket George Barrington written by Richard S. Lambert. Michel is eventually caught and jailed for his thievery; upon his release, he finds that his mother has died, but Jacques and Jeanne are still where he left them, Jeanne with a toddler. Critics interpret this to mean he is being offered a chance at a better life.

Bresson is considered a leader of the French avant garde school of minimalism, and this film is admired to this day. It has recently been shown at New York's prestigious temple of modernism, the Museum of Modern Art. I find its minimalism a bit puzzling. On the one hand, Bresson's actors here seem to be largely wooden, hardly acting, and Michel wears the exact same, badly fitting black suit, white shirt, black tie in every scene, even after we have seen him knocked down in a scuffle, with his trousers torn at the knee. Even after his release from prison, six years after the main action of the movie. On the other hand, the streets of Paris are always lively, filled with extras accurately dressed in the current styles. The movie, seems to me, presents a very accurate picture of Parisian street life and social life at the time, particularly the way the young of the great and beautiful city live.

I have seen and reviewed, in these pages, the filmmaker's A MAN ESCAPED, and LES DAMES, which I liked, and Au Hasard Balthazar, which I did not. Your response to PICKPOCKET, I expect, will depend upon your tolerance. For black and white, subtitles, and a still odd piece of French film-making.
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