Daily Projections, 12-20-2018: Pickpocket (1959)

Title: Pickpocket
Director: Robert Bresson
Country of Origin: France
Year: 1959
Screening format: Blu-ray
Setting: Home
First viewing? Yes

My first Bresson. Bresson, whose reputation for grace and economy precede him. Maybe Pickpocket is a strange place to start with Bresson. It’s admittedly hard to get a handle on what is going on here at first. Michel is a pickpocket, perhaps a kleptomaniac, stealing for the thrill of it. As he teams with accomplices, his exploits become more daring and yet, while Michel claims to be afraid of getting caught, it seems as if he almost invites his own downfall. After all, a thief who never locks his door when he leaves home even though there are stolen goods all over the place. Is he really that brazen? Or is there a part of him that wants to stop stealing but knows he could never chose a crime free life on his own but would have to be led to it by a power greater than he is? The pickpocketing scenes themselves are downright riveting. Tightly choreographed and elegant, they form a digital (as in fingers, not computers) ballet. Surely it is no accident, then, that the entire score of the film is comprised of works by Jean Baptiste Lully, a composer who revolutionized ballet and French dance music as a whole in the second half of the 17th century.

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