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Reviews & Ratings for
Pickpocket More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Dark and poor universe of Bresson's characters

Author: Armand Erfanian from United Kingdom
23 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In Bresson films in general and in Pickpocket in particular:

1-The narrative is reduced to some lines. It looks like bones without any flesh (e.g. Inspired by Dostoyevsky's 'Crime and Punishment', Bresson's plot has nothing with the rich psychology of the latter)

2-The characters are reduced to lines and are made some kind of one-dimensional human beings. They are poor in traits and they have not any ambiguities as real people have in their real life. 3-The setting is the least. They are usually simple walls instead of everything. There is no decoration on the walls and over the tables. 4-The actors are non-professionals. Besides, Bresson was asking them not to play. He did not let his actors to deepen the characters. 5-Even Bresson did not call them actors but models.

The universe of Bresson is dark. The universe of Bresson is intentionally poor. People don't enjoy their life. They are sad. They are poor in culture and in human relationship. Something comes and saves them at the end of the film. In Pickpocket it's the love of Jeanne (Marika Green) which saves Michel (Martin La Salle) in prison and gives him hope. A love that appears like a light on Jeanne's face... The reason for all that is in Bresson's religious faith in Jansenism...

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:


Author: kosmasp
11 August 2010

And I'm not talking about any loot, but about the audience. You will either love or loathe the movie. And while comparisons to Taxi Driver and other "loner movies" might be right, it's also true that they are far better written (and in Taxi Driver also with "real actors", in contrast to the non-professionals at hand here).

If that is something that might not put you off, than maybe a few weird scenes might do the trick. The narrative seems to be all over the place, an unlikeable "hero" and pretentious script writing. And still through all the flaws, there are a few good moments in between. The existential questions it raises, but also the wry humour in places. Though not as solid as (I) expected, it still has a few points to make, through all the flaws it has.

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11 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Dull and Pointless

Author: kenjha
7 August 2011

Bresson has taken elements from Dostoyevski's "Crime and Punishment" and Camus' "The Stranger," yet comes up with a film so dull and pointless that it's a chore to sit through it despite the short running time. The pickpocket scenes are so poorly executed that it's hard to believe that the victims would be so oblivious. The performances by actors making their film debuts range from dull to wooden. LaSalle is meant to be brooding as the protagonist, but he wears the same dour-faced expression throughout the film, making him about as interesting as a wet noodle. Green is quite lovely; LaSalle's lack of interest in her (until the contrived ending) is implausible.

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11 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Difficult To Understand The High Rating

Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland
2 March 2008

Robert Bresson's PICKPOCKET has an average rating higher than some of the movies in the top 250 movies on this site but I'm somewhat dismayed as to why it's so highly regarded . I suppose if you're a fan of Bresson and you want to see him do a movie in the new wave sense then you'll probably enjoy it but if you're unaware of new wave cinema and have people heaping superlatives upon it you'll probably be as disappointed as me

The story itself is relatively threadbare , there's little plot and is mainly character driven . The story centres around Michel a recently released thief who returns to his old ways as a pickpocket . He meets up with a couple of other fingersmiths and there's a bit of romance involved and that's basically it plot wise . I wasn't convinced by the pickpocket choreography either , especially in one scene where Michel robs a bloke on a bus . I doubt if anyone could have failed to notice the way Michel acts so suspiciously . Honestly if this guy came to stand beside you on a crowded bus you'd instantly be worried about becoming a victim of an indecent assault !

I do realise that French new wave cinema has a massive amount of fans and its legacy leaked into the new Hollywood of the 1970s . You can tell Paul Schrader was heavily influenced by PICKPOCKET and one of his own screenplay's mirrors the ending here . Apart from that however you're probably better waiting for it to turn up on television than spending six quid to watch it in the cinema

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27 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

precedents and antecedents

Author: tim
7 October 2002

I just saw pickpocket for the first time last night, and thought it was the best bresson film i've seen- the others being l'argent, balthasar, and an early one (possibly about a prostitute?) of which i can't remember the title. It's a minimalist masterpiece- only kiarostami's 10 has taken a step onwards and stripped cinema even closer to its essentials- which has more than one moment of transcendence, through a decisive act breaking the compulsive repetition- felt both by protagonist and audience. the only point i have to add is that i found it very hard to stop comparing it to crime and punishment, american gigolo and taxi driver. It's incredible how bresson makes the lesser crime of stealing seem just as immoral as a brutal murder, and the film is sufficiently cinematic and different from its obvious thematic source that it is incomparable to dostoyevsky's novel (which happens to be my favourite book). However, i think the combination of schrader's identification with, and admiration for, both bresson and the russian master, when combined the psychological mastery of scorsese and the uniformly excellent acting of taxi driver make it the better film. Is this perhaps because it gives the audience more sensation, and therefore more to react to, than pickpocket? In this it is closer in tone and style to crime and punishment and notes from the underground, and also perfectly encapsulated a period of time and social mentality just as dostoyevsky did. however, these points are largely irrelevant, for without pickpocket these links would not exist; and without bresson, cinema would have been severely impoverished.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
26 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Robert Bresson's Pickpocket was to me at its best when showing a French young man, with little prospects, learning the art of swindling wallets, moneys, and watches from unsuspecting citizens walking the streets of Paris. When he joins an outfit, the pickpocketing is astonishing to see unfold, particularly in how the fingers and hands move from one victim's coat (and pants) pockets and purses to another. It really is an artform that Bresson's camera seamlessly captures…this is a marvel of filmmaking. The camera will spot a bag or money sticking out of a wallet, alternate to the eyes of Martin LaSalle noticing them, and allows us to see how it all transpires, typically with success…but not always. Interestingly, LaSalle's first real test—removing money from a purse during a horserace—was almost his undoing, while the last pickpocket (the difficult, unrealistic task of trying to swipe a fat wad (literally paraded in his face by the "winner" which should have been a suspicious sign; the lure was just too great) from the inner coat pocket of someone standing *behind* him proves to be a major mistake. The train sequence, as three pickpockets work over a number of travelers boarding, is a knockout.

Ultimately, the film is about desperation and the driving urge to take from others to support yourself. Sometimes, the lure to pickpocket is addictive. LaSalle's performance is subtle and never explosive or overdone. It is all carefully nuanced how he reacts to threats against his livelihood, the obvious signs that his mother is about dead, the constant presence of the police waiting for him to slip, and his avoidance of taking responsibility for a life of crime. Marika Green is the poverty-stricken neighbor who tends to LaSalle's mom out of care and is often pleading with him to see her. LaSalle and Green embracing with a prison gate between them at the end is quite a powerful image due to what it takes to get them to this point. Prior to this, the two avoided this inevitability. Jacques (Pierre Leymarie) is the friend of LaSalle's Michel and moral compass that tries to steer him away from the pickpocket life and out of his crumbling, lowly domicile…to no avail. Returning from a European pickpocket adventure, Michel is as broke and penniless as before he left Paris so that the police's presence in his life would diminish. Learning of a sexual coupling between his friends, Jacques is gone while Green's Jeanne watches over the child that came from their loveless union. This urges him to continue his pickpocket ways.

This is as good an example I could think of explaining the seduction into a life of crime, the compulsion that comes when someone becomes good at stealing to survive, and how the lure of not stopping can only end up with the thief locked in a prison cell. Bresson doesn't try to tug on your heartstrings, either…he shows you this man's story and doesn't judge him harshly. He exists in a real world that isn't always kind or prosperous. There are winners and losers in this life: those who have it better than others, and Michel fends for himself in a way that is unlawful…but to him is the only answer.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Before Travis Bickle, there was Michel

Author: Ore-Sama from United States
28 January 2015

Robert Bresson is one of those directors often listed among the highest tier of film making. Even cinematic elites like Andrei Tarkovsky hold him in the highest esteem, and "Pickpocket" is one of the highlight films of his career.

The film centers around Michel, a character often compared to the protagonist of Dostovesky's "Crime and Punishment", but I would say he's closer to "A Raw Youth", the story of a young man who rejects the ideals of his elders and seeks to live in society on his own terms. In this instance, it's through pit pocketing. But it's not just a means to survive for Michel, it's a way of life, an art, an obsession, a thrill. Even he knows if he continues this way of life, his downfall will be imminent, and yet he can't stop. Again we can compare with many a dostovesky protagonist, a pitiful man who brings about his own downfall, yet can invoke a sense of empathy. They are not monsters, they are, tragically, flawed.

It is this level of intricacy in the storytelling that helps give the film it's raw power. Watching this the first time, I didn't even notice that the actors gave completely mechanical performances, rarely if ever emoting, a purposeful choice on the part of the director. So masterful is the storytelling, both in the writing and the direction, that it feels like I felt like I saw the emotion myself.

I can't not talk about the cinematography. Much has been said about the pickpocket scenes themselves. The only tool Breson uses is close ups, just enough to let the audience see what is going on, and through that suspense is created. I have to believe this film was an influence on directors such as Peter Yates, who would use similar techniques for crime thrillers like "Bullit" and "The Friends of Eddie Coyle".

Even without the suspenseful pick pocketing scenes, every shot is precise. The highlight shot of the film for me is when Michel is standing outside in a small crowd, the wind blowing by him. In a film focused on objects and materials, somehow the wind never looked more beautiful.

Although the film is certainly on the artsy side, don't let that deter you. The film, much like Truffaut's "The 400 Blows", is very straight forward and easy to follow on a story telling level. If you enjoy films like "Taxi Driver" (on which this film was an influence), then this movie is for you.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Pickpocket is just a timeless classic.

Author: The-Eternity-of-Time
23 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Michel is released from jail after serving a sentence for thievery. His mother dies and he resorts to pickpocketing as a means of survival. Michel starts picking pockets as a hobby, and is arrested straight away; this gives him a chance to reflect on the seriousness of his crime. After his release from prison his mother dies and he rejects the support of his friends in preference of pickpocketing he does so after taking lessons from an expert in pickpocketing, he does this because in my opinion he is trying to release the stress from his life as this is his only way of doing it. Roger Ebert compared Pickpocket to Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment: "Bresson's Michel, like Dostoyevsky's hero Raskolnikov, needs money in order to realize his dreams, and sees no reason why some lackluster ordinary person should not be forced to supply it. The reasoning is immoral, but the characters claim special privileges above and beyond common morality. Michel, like the hero of Crime and Punishment, has a 'good woman' in his life, which trusts he will be able to redeem himself.... She comes to Michel with the news that his mother is dying. Michel does not want to see his mother, but gives Jeanne money for her. Why does he avoid her? Bresson never supplies motives. We can only guess." The lead character, Michel, played by Martin La Salle, is a lonely man who in his eyes the only way of escaping his anguish is to act out criminally. Pickpocket is a film that gives the viewer a feeling of foredoom that Michel is doomed to fail but at the same time the film allows the viewer to sympathize with Michel. Pickpocket is just a timeless classic and is an essential film that every film lover should see.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: Jack Banister from United States
12 January 2014

Barely coming in at 75 minutes, this movie is just so watchable! As Hitchcock said, the length of a film should be proportionate to the movie goers bladder! Well said and a film well done. If you've ever been to France (Paris in particular) you know that pickpockets are a problem and it is all too easy to become a victim. With some truly brilliant camera work and acting, we are shown by the main, Michel, the flip side of pick pocketing! I saw another review complaining about lack of a plot and I agree, it is frustrating! Just when you think he might give it up and go for love, he doesn't. All of the elements of the film NOT about pick pocketing are very wishy washy, but seriously...the title is pick pocketing...what did you expect?! The guy is happiest when he pick pockets and I am happiest when I watch him pick pocket! Truly a wonderful film.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Something I've missed

Author: Murray Murray from Kent, United Kingdom
9 December 2008

Although a clear piece of cinematic art with its slow and detailed sequences, I feel I have missed the genius within Pickpocket. When watching, nothing grabbed me in the same way as A Man Escaped and I finished the film appreciating its beauty and form, without feeling truly impressed.

I must point out that it was not that I thought that this was a bad film. Stylistically I agree that this film is fantastically shot in black and white, it was just that I feel that there is something I've missed.

Undeniably the theft sequences are blindingly brilliant and I really felt myself leaning in to watch as hands exchanged wallets with the deftest of touches. I also felt that tension was built up fantastically with the use of sound and imagery. I thought that the ending was well measured and summarised the film well but it was the story as a whole that never grew on me enough and I felt disappointed at points with the way it unfolded.

I hope, however, to watch this film again and perhaps more times after that because I sense that it was what I missed as opposed to what the film lacked. For me, perhaps, it will age like wine. I certainly hope so.

For now... 6/10

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