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Pickpocket (1963)

May. 20,1963
| Drama Crime

Michel takes up pickpocketing on a lark and is arrested soon after. His mother dies shortly after his release, and despite the objections of his only friend, Jacques, and his mother's neighbor Jeanne, Michel teams up with a couple of petty thieves in order to improve his craft. With a police inspector keeping an eye on him, Michel also tries to get a straight job, but the temptation to steal is hard to resist.


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Why so much hype?


Highly Overrated But Still Good

Ariella Broughton

It is neither dumb nor smart enough to be fun, and spends way too much time with its boring human characters.


The movie really just wants to entertain people.


PICKPOCKET is a touching crime drama about humanity and search for self-realization. Film was a loosely based on the novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The main protagonist is a lonely young man who has decided to become a pickpocket. His dying mother cherishes a young neighbor in whom the young man falls in love. He was arrested after a failed robbery. He was watched by local inspector. Soon, he becomes a member of a group of petty pickpockets...Bresson style is quite meticulous and somewhat minimalistic. The protagonists have offered a realistic story through cold emotions. It's hard to believe such relationships in the story. The motives and moral values are not clearly defined in this movie. However, extremely rich close-ups and landscapes are very impressive. Mr. Bresson has tried, through details on clothing, faces and hands, to induce abstract visual effects and natural sounds.Martin LaSalle as Michel is a good person, who is struggling with his own moral values. He is a man who does not know what to do with themselves. The theft was not achievement in his case. He does not need money in order to realize his dreams. This young man is searching for some meaning in his life.A second chance in life is a prison, while an awkward kiss is a kind of life redemption.


All in all, while the film is good- mainly on the strength of several bravura isolated scenes, it often comes off as something akin to Neo-Realism Lite. There is nothing of the real pathos nor insight that invests some of the classics from Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica, and the Italian classics that were made a decade before this film. Consequently, the film comes off as all head with little heart or soul, and, despite its occasional bravura moments, the film is not particularly deep, and especially so considering it against the titanic achievements of Mouchette and Au Hasard Balthazar. Also, there are numerous little moments that just clunk, starting with the film's titled opening, wherein words scrawl across the screen and tell us of what we are about to witness, that this film is not a thriller but a work of art about the communion of two souls. This overt invocation of Romantic bidungsromans just tanks, in and of itself, and because it utterly destroys the film's end. We know that Michel and Jeanne will end up together, and, worse, the film does not mitigate this solecism by providing a meaningful how the end is reach, even if we know what the end will be.So, Pickpocket is not a great film, much less a masterpiece, in any sense of the term that has relevance, but it is a film that shows potential for plumbing things at a level deeper than even films that are better realized. Unfortunately for it, and its viewers, that potential would only be realized in later Bresson offerings. Of course, there are certainly worse things in life, though. Ask Michel or his portrayer.


Pickpocket is a film that apparently has serious flaws- from the very beginning it displays little to no emotion as the actors on screen just say their lines and the camera just follows them from a distance, with no close-ups or any other tricks.But what is unique about this film is that this very criticism is actually a deliberate attempt to cause uneasiness in the viewer. And it succeeds- the anxiety, as felt by the pickpocket in his everyday living, is also transmitted to us. So, to correct my previous statement: this movie does not lack emotions- it has emotions: anxiety, uncertainty, but these are delivered in an unconventional manner.From a personal standpoint, I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. It is hard to appreciate this dimension of the film at first. But after seeing some extras from the excellent Criterion package, I was able to understand better. How Bresson actually committed to cause these emotions in the viewer, how he re-shot several times various scenes until the actors just repeated their lines, until no trait of emotions were left. Michel's narration voice-over is flat, plain. These were non-professional actors set to work in a non-standard way, Bresson's way. And the result is this: a film somewhat off-putting, but still a great work of art.


Pickpocket involves a young man named Michel. He develops thievery as a hobby and soon meets another man who teaches him his craft.Shortly after, Michel is arrested. While in jail, everything is put into perspective for him and he reflects on his past crimes.After he is released, Michel's mother dies right before his eyes. His friend Jeanne tries to help Michel with his problems but like before, he reverts back to a life of pick pocketing.Michel realizes that he is under suspicion and flees the country for two years. When he returns, his desire to pick pocket has him put in jail again. Jeanne visits him and they both share a loving moment for each other.9/10. A simple plot that is masterfully directed. Pickpocket shows the point of view of a misunderstood person in a harsh, unforgiving world.