Sunday, December 11, 2016

Criterion on FilmStruck: Pickpocket (1959)

Pickpocket movie poster
Pickpocket (1959) - Written and Directed by Robert Bresson; Starring Martin LaSalle, Marika Green, Jean Pelegri, Pierre Etaix.

By Kenny Howell

A man fresh out of jail for picking pockets returns to the life as a means of survival, but also just because he can't help himself in this French classic.

Legendary filmmaker Robert Bresson (Au Hasard Balthazar) tells the story of Michel. Once he gets out of jail, his mother passes away, leaving him no means of support. Friends offer help, but he returns to the life that got him there in the first place.

Seeking not to get caught again, Michel consults with successful pickpockets to learn the sleight of hand tricks. As he gets better at it, it becomes a bit of an obsession. Is he attracted to the high of getting away with it, or is it finally something he does well? His confidence builds, but fear sets in as the prospects of getting caught grow as he becomes more daring.

Bresson spends a lot of time on hands in this film as they glide gracefully into coat pockets or just around everyday activities. It's a clever little trick for Bresson to get most of the film's expression and action through the characters hands and really builds the narrative in an unique way.

Pickpocket is now streaming through FilmStruck.

Rating: ***

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