A reconstruction of the trial of Joan of Arc (based entirely on the transcripts of the real-life trial), concerning Joan's imprisonment, interrogation and final execution at the hands of ... See full summary »
A forged 500-franc note is cynically passed from person to person and shop to shop, until it falls into the hands of a genuine innocent who doesn't see it for what it is - which will have ... See full summary »
Sylvie Van den Elsen,
A million miles away from 'Camelot' or 'Excalibur', this film ruthlessly strips the Arthurian legend down to its barest essentials. Arthur's knights, far from being heroic, are conniving ... See full summary »
Laura Duke Condominas,
Rich young Anne-Marie thinks she has found her vocation when she joins a Dominican convent as a novice. The convent specialises in rehabilitating female prisoners, and Anne-Marie becomes ... See full summary »
Charles drifts through politics, religion and psychoanalysis, rejecting them all. Once he realises the depth of his disgust with the moral and physical decline of the society he lives in, ... See full summary »
Henri de Maublanc
A young woman kills herself, leaving no explanation to her grief-stricken pawnbroker husband. We learn in flashback about how they met, married, and how she failed to adapt her lifestyle to... See full summary »
French Resistance activist Andre Devigny is imprisoned by the Nazis, and devotes his waking hours to planning an elaborate escape. Then, on the same day, he is condemned to death, and given... See full summary »
Charles Le Clainche,
The 'dreamer' is Jacques, a young painter, who by chance runs into Marthe as she's contemplating suicide on the Pont-Neuf in Paris. They talk, and agree to see each other again the next ... See full summary »
Guillaume des Forêts,
Michel takes up picking pockets as a hobby, and is arrested almost immediately, giving him the chance to reflect on the morality of crime. After his release, though, his mother dies, and he rejects the support of friends Jeanne and Jacques in favour of returning to pickpocketing (after taking lessons from an expert), because he realises that it's the only way he can express himself... Written by
Michael Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Looking like a French movie but sounding like Russian literature with all the furniture cataloguing removed, Pickpocket is from the days when Bresson still drew more naturalistic performances from his non-professional casts rather than turning them into stilted and self-conscious mannequins (although Marika Green falls into the latter category, always looking at her feet as if her lines were written on her shoes in classic Bresson automaton mode), and combines the sleek look of a studio policier with a pared down moral debate from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, with theft replacing murder.
Unlike Bresson's more obviously spiritual films (A Man Escaped, Au Hasard Balthazar, Diary of a Country Priest), there's no religious quest here: instead, there's a determinedly atheistic one, with Martin LaSalle's would-be Prince of Pickpockets pursuing an ideal of intellectual elitism as justification for crime against society's morality, failing to realise that he's just another of the thousands of petty egotist in the criminal little leagues. He simply has the ability to articulate his own notions of superiority, completely unaware that he probably works harder at his criminal skills than he would ever do at a proper job.
It's also possibly Bresson's most overtly cinematic work despite the underplaying of the dialogue scenes. The fluidity of the railway station sequence, with its extraordinary display of tricks of the trade that seem more magic act than crime (the DVD also includes an extract from sleight-of-hand adviser and supporting player Kassogi's cabaret act) and the stylised nature of the sound that always keeps LaSalle at a slight remove from the world around him are much more exhilarating displays of technique than you usually associate with Bresson's more controlled and understated approach in his other films, as even he gets caught up in the LaSalle's addiction to the perfect high that only crime can give him. In that respect, it's the Bresson film you can safely recommend to people who hate Bresson fans without losing points with the faithful.
30 of 43 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?