Monday 10 September 2012

Pickpocket [1959]

With the nail-biting WWII escape film A Man Escaped, Robert Bresson made one of the greatest thrillers ever made. In a cheeky display of humour, he began his follow-up film Pickpocket with the disclaimer that this isn’t a thriller, even though it was quite obviously not one. Regarded among Bresson’s most acclaimed works, this Dostoyevskian parable on Crime and Punishment was about a young man who has resorted to a life of crime as a matter of choice rather than compulsion. Michel (Martin LaSalle), the film’s deadpan protagonist, an unemployed Parisian who lives in a shack of an apartment, begins the journey as an amateur, and soon, with the assistance of a couple of experienced players, he graduates to becoming a professional and full-blown pickpocket. Despite the overt appeals by his dying mother, the silent and subtle pleas by Jeanne (Marika Green), a beautiful young lady he finds himself falling for, the proactive help from a close friend of his, and pursuit by a dogged police officer, he is undeterred in his choice of life. Typical to Bresson’s choice of film language and “non acting”, the film was less on overt and realistic display of human emotions; rather, the intent here was clearly to clinically portray a man’s choice of sustenance means to satisfy the ends of survival in a callous and uncaring society, and the realization in the end as to what he essentially wants in life. The elaborate and bravura sequences of pickpocketing, mastered through the actual employment of a professional pickpocket to bring in authenticity to the filmmaking, were the undoubted highlights of this low-key film laced with deep philosophical undertones.

Director: Robert Bresson
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Crime Drama
Language: French
Country: France

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