Using Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment as a point of departure, director Bresson has created a wonderful study of a criminal on the road to redemption in PICKPOCKET (released in Paris in 1959). Lassalle stars as a lonely young man who resigns himself to the fate of becoming a pickpocket.
An initial attempt is unsuccessful, and he is easily caught. It is during his arrest that Lassalle's consciousness is raised on the rights and wrongs of theft. When his sickly mother dies, Green and Leymarie, his two closest friends, offer advice and solace. Lassalle, however, chooses to return to
crime, taking lessons from master pickpocket Kassagi. The police inspector observes Lassalle's criminal life but fails to arrest him, partly because of flimsy evidence and partly because he is intrigued with Lassalle's ideas. When Lassalle's partners in crime are arrested, the pickpocket flees
France, leaving behind Green, who has by now fallen in love with him. When he returns years later he finds Green unmarried and with a child. Again he resorts to stealing and again he is caught. Green visits him in his cell, and for the first time he realizes that he loves her. In the memorable
final moments, Green and Lassalle embrace through the bars of the cell as he tells her, "What a strange way I have traveled to find you at last." As Bresson has so often done in his films, PICKPOCKET details a man's struggle between his inner feelings and his attempt to survive in society. What
separates PICKPOCKET from so many other films is Bresson's use of Lassalle's inner voice (which corresponds to the written words in his diary) as a narrative element. Those familiar with the work of screenwriter-director Paul Schrader will note a few similarities in style and thought, which comes
as no surprise since Schrader wrote a book entitled Transcendental Style on Film: Ozu, Bresson, and Dreyer. Elements of TAXI DRIVER's narrative (voiceover and diary passages corresponding) are lifted from PICKPOCKET, as in the final line of AMERICAN GIGOLO. While Schrader's transcendental style
has failed to achieve the status of Bresson or Ozu or Dreyer (TAXI DRIVER, his finest achievement, comes closest), he has, at least, brought an interesting philosophical element into American film.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Using Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment as a point of departure, director Bresson has created a wonderful study of a criminal on the road to redemption in PICKPOCKET (released in Paris in 1959). Lassalle stars as a lonely young man who resigns himself to… (more)