Classic Movie Review: Pickpocket (1959)

Title: Pickpocket
Release Date: 16 December 1959
Director: Robert Bresson
Production Company: Compagnie Cinématographique de France

In Paris, a young man named Michel (nonprofessional actor Martin LaSalle) decides to take up thievery.  He is not in desperate need for money, but he has a theory that certain people are more elite than others and can benefit society by robbing the lesser people. Having the protagonist be a sociopath makes him extremely unsympathetic, and made the movie hard to watch for me (and not surprisingly it also inspired Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver).

The Chief Inspector of the police (Jean Pélégri) has his eye on Michel from the start and they have some cagey conversations, but it’s not exactly a thriller or interpersonal drama like Les Miserables. Michel also forms a relationship with the young woman who lives next to his mother, Jeanne (Marika Green), although I don’t know what’s in it for her since he literally pays no attention to her until the end of the film.

Pickpocket is expertly filmed, and the best parts of the movie are the scenes when Michel and his accomplices balletically remove wallets from their marks at train stations and aboard trains. But the rest of the movie doesn’t do much for me.

Rating: ***

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