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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 <email@example.com>
A remarkable film even though the ending is anti-climactic. An amateur pickpocket gets lucky and meets Kassagi, the real-life pickpocket who served as the film's technical consultant. The most amazing scene is the one where three pickpockets rob one passenger after another on a train, taking wallets, passing them off to each other, then emptying and dumping them (or in one case, neatly replacing the lightened wallet in a man's pocket!). The light-finger techniques seem more or less authentic, although I imagine the director's script might have called for inauthentic bits of business. (No, I am not a pickpocket; I was a mark once, and they really messed up my life for a couple of days, but I have been fascinated ever since.)
The pickpockets in this movie follow the European style of stealing men's wallets practically face-to-face. (American pickpockets traditionally prefer to steal from behind to avoid any chance of a mark seeing their faces. When I was taken, I never saw, heard or felt anything.)
LaSalle as Michel is deadpan, but that seems to be part of his character. Now and again, he bubbles a little with suppressed feeling, mostly anger. His passion for Jeanne (Marika Green) is so completely submerged that it does not come out until the end. (If you think I'm spoiling anything, you will want to skip the on screen legend that opens the film because it gives away even more.) As a love story, this does not work. I get it, though: Something happened before the film begins that makes Michel extremely ashamed. He can't be with his mother or anyone he cares about because of his guilt.
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