Pickpocket is my third film by acclaimed French film-maker Robert Bresson the others being L’Argent and Journal of a Country Priest. When reading up about Bresson, Pickpocket is far and away his biggest film in terms of how critics view it and how it helped shape French cinema. It was released the same year as Breathless and had a similar role in giving rise to French New Wave. Regular readers of my blog will likely know where I am heading for the next few paragraphs.
For a film that isn’t even 80 minutes long – I cannot begin to describe how frustrating it was. This is me, again, banging my head against the wall of French cinema of this era where emotions are to be tempered and everything is cloaked with the same nauseating veil of narcissism. The lead character (and I’m not going into how bleeding obvious it was that the leading man wasn’t a proper actor) is so devoid of emotion and so sure of his own greatness that I wasn’t able to derive any real tension from his acts of pickpocketing.
Sure, the scenes depicting the pickpocketing (which reminded me of scenes in Hustle without the slow-motion and the show-boating) are really interesting – but as I was unable to connect to him, I was unable to get any of the tension that I was meant to be feeling about the possibility of him being caught. I’m in the minority here, believe me I know. If anything, the moment towards the end he finally got caught gave me a bit of schadenfreude – something especially heightened by his monologue at the end.
I wish I could have liked this as I hate being among the small group who dislike acclaimed films like this. In the end though, this is all a taste thing and I just don’t have a taste for these sorts of films. Thankfully there cannot be too many of these left, so I am taking some solace in that.