Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959): France

Reviewed by Belen Nevarez. Viewed at AFI Film Festival 2013.


Pickpocket, a film by Robert Bresson, follows a man surviving day to day by slipping his hand into other’s purses, jackets, etc. to steal their money from their wallets. ¬†It oddly starts with us looking at him watching a polo game in a crowd of people for a longer than we would like. Then we finally realize that he was waiting for the right time to make his move and obtain money from those rich folks as he seems to be lower middle class. We see his small, unappealing, and dark apartment and his refusal to visit his sick ¬†mother, though he will give her money for medication. So we follow him choose his next victim and we hope he does not get caught.

This is a black and white film released in the year 1959, which contains heavy classical music to create the atmosphere. There were close ups of his hand for us to see him learn new tricks and practice them in crowds of people. There were some pauses which made us anticipate his skill for a successful steal. Though the majority of us would not agree with his choices of not having a job and not visiting his sick mother, he seemed to be okay with it . His expressionless face make us wonder why he does this for a living and does he feel bad for doing it? I can honestly say no.

I am now paranoid of leaving my bag on the floor and careful of not putting my wallet in a pocket that can accessible to others. He made it seems so easy, though I think that the victims where very clueless and would have been more aware if it happened in reality.

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