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Pickpocket (1959)



Average Rating: 9.2/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 6,348

My Rating

Movie Info

Director Robert Bresson chose Uruguayan nonactor Martin LaSalle for his leading man in Pickpocket. LaSalle's inexperience works against the film for some viewers, though Bresson himself was satisfied because his star proved himself a quick study in the art of lifting wallets (a genuine pickpocket was engaged as "technical adviser"). Essentially, the story is a character study of a cocky young criminal who becomes so entranced by the act of picking pockets that he literally can't stop himself.


Art House & International, Drama

Robert Bresson

Nov 8, 2005

Pathfinder Pictures

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All Critics (31) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (1) | DVD (13)

A picture so original in style that it sometimes seems downright peculiar.

March 5, 2013 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Robert Bresson made this short electrifying study in 1959; it's one of his greatest and purest films, full of hushed transgression and sudden grace.

March 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bresson choreographs the complex techniques of lifting wallets and watches with such precision that one seems to be watching a kind of surreptitious ballet.

March 5, 2013 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

French director Robert Bresson used his nonactors only once and orchestrated every gesture and glance; the performances that resulted are both mesmerizing and suffused with mystery.

February 27, 2007 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bresson's goals were deep; to sweep away the dross of expectation and viewing conventions by means of a purified cinema. At times in this thief's journal his visual discourse touches the sublime.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ultimately inexplicable, this concentrated, elliptical, economical movie is an experience that never loses its strangeness.

October 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Pragmatic to the point of being almost mechanical, Pickpocket it is paradoxically saturated with soulfulness.

March 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinemania

A marvel of poise and circumspect emotion from French auteur Robert Bresson.

March 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

It is, at base, about self-fulfilment and redemption through love -- a common enough idea in films. But this 1959 epic has seldom been equalled as a philosophical treatise on the subject.

March 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

Even more than the deadpan anti-thesping, it's the virtuoso thievery sequences (movement, disguise, distraction) that really mesmerise.

March 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

...the act of lifting a wallet from a man's jacket is a means to consider what the act of thievery swipes from the thief's soul.

February 27, 2012 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

An often interminable piece of work...

February 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Poetic seems too weak a word to sum up Pickpocket's extraordinary arc: that it achieves so much in so short a time (75 minutes) is almost other-worldly.

December 31, 2009 Full Review Source: Film and Felt
Film and Felt

... sempre fascinante constatar como Bresson, com seu estilo emocionalmente seco e direto e sua insistência em performances rígidas, consegue criar personagens tão complexos e interessantes.

January 27, 2009
Cinema em Cena

Inspired by Dostoevsky's seminal novel, Bresson's rigorous meditation on crime and redemption is a masterpiece, paying attention to the criminal and the society that created him without ever explaining either; it's only 75 minutes but every frame counts

July 1, 2008 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

A wonderful study of a criminal on the road to redemption.

August 28, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Hypnotic drama about a Parisian pickpocket.

August 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

Bresson examines actions but offers little attention to motives, an approach that here seems to suggest that Michel's choices may be a mystery even to himself.

February 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

Bresson's films are the most sublime expression of the powerful, illicit sexuality of the movement of moving pictures against a subjective audience.

January 29, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

I believe Bresson would approve of Criterion's efforts, as all possible interpretations of "Pickpocket" are spread throughout the very special features of this disc.

January 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

The hero wrestles with a Dostoyevskian conflict.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Pickpocket

Written and directed by acclaimed french film-maker Robert Bresson, Pickpocket is the stark story of an impoverished, would-be writer who takes to a life of crime, partly as a necessity and partly for the simple thrill of it. Michel (Martin LaSalle) rarely evokes much emotion during the course of the film, but his eyes speak volumes. His apartment is so stark, it doesn't even have a handle or lock on the door, just a flimsy little hook to keep it shut when he wants some privacy. He seems to have only one suit, which he wears at all times. His friend Jacques (Pierre Leymarie) tries to help him get a job, so he might buy some new clothes even, but it's an effort that's wasted on a disinterested party. When Michel comes to visit his dying mother, he meets the woman next door who has been caring for her. Jeanne (Markia Green) strikes his interest, but her pretty face is nothing compared to the allure of pickpocketing. He makes friends with other pickpockets, and learns a great deal from his companions (he's always studying to better himself at this craft). Only his conscience, in the guise of a police inspector, ever slows him down or gives him thought. As the film progresses, Michel gets more and more paranoid (but not enough to quit). In the dvd commentary, writer Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) explains that Bresson was trying to upset the audience's sense of well-being by not following the rules one expects when sitting down to watch a film. He uses very little music in his film, using it only here and there, sometimes at appropriate times, sometimes at seemingly inappropriate ones. He also avoids showing key points to the film (something that should never happen), such as when Michel gets arrested early in the picture: one moment he's walking down the street, confident and on top of the world, the next he's sitting in the back of a police car. The actual arrest isn't shown. Whether Bresson was intentionally trying to upset the viewer or simply trying to upset the apple cart and shake things up a little bit, I'm not sure, but it's certainly an interesting movie.
February 22, 2010
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Beautifully filmed and masterfully accomplished, Bresson's loose version of Crime and Punishment is by far my favourite. I was almost hypnotised during the pickpocket sequences, thank God for pause buttons. I'm sad aren't I?. Anyway, great film but unfortunately the acting is a little wooden but forgivable!
September 30, 2009

Super Reviewer

The appeal of "Pickpocket" is less about its story (the title is self-explanatory) and more about the deft economy of Robert Bresson's direction. Not a stroke is wasted. The depictions of intricate, tag-team pickpocket moves are especially sharp -- the eye can barely follow the action.

"Pickpocket" has one glaring handicap: The untrained actors look strangely dazed throughout the film. This may be an intentional effect, but their stupor leaves little room for an emotional connection. Luckily, the movie is over so soon that it never has a chance to turn dull.
May 2, 2011
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]In "Pickpocket", Michel is a pickpocket of some talent but very little knowledge. His mother who he cannot bring himself to visit is seriously ill. Along the way, he makes new friends with his mother's neighbors, a police detective and an expert pickpocket who enlists and trains him.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Robert Bresson is more interested in getting inside the head of a criminal than in judging him. He is most curious about why a thief does steal. The highlight of the film is definitely the pickpocketing sequences. The ending is a bit of a letdown, though.[/font]
October 11, 2005
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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