In a cinematic sleight of hand, Robert Bresson (A Man Escapes, Au Hasard Balthazar) conjures the complexity of a lifetime in just 75 minutes of formally restrained elegant simplicity: a bare narrative and a blank face; a petty thief and the endless depth of the human condition.
This enduringly influential drama twists themes from Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment into a startlingly precise character-study.
Starring a non-actor (at the time) in its central role, Pickpocket follows the life of Michelle (Martin La Salle), a petty thief who develops his craft after attempts to find a regular job fail to stick. Around this modest premise, the existential ache of grief, love, isolation and hope gathers with a cumulative and astonishing force.
Uniting a diverse range of filmmakers in its influence – from Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese and Richard Linklater, to Werner Herzog and Theo Angelopoulos – Bresson’s masterpiece is a deft miracle of formal concision and emotional poetry.