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Director:Robert Bresson
Cast:Martin LaSalle, Mariak Green, Jean Pélégri
Release Date:1959
Genre:Drama, Foreign

At the Charles Theatre at noon June 3, 7 p.m. June 5, and 9 p.m. June 8.

By Bret McCabe | Posted 5/31/2006

After 1966’s heartbreaking Au Hasard Balthazar, Pickpocket and A Man Escaped are Robert Bresson’s most liked and most seen flicks. And of those two, Pickpocket is the most accessible. Like Sam Fuller’s Pickup on South Street distilled to its metaphysical essence, this 1959 mediation follows aspiring writer-turned-petty thief Michel (Martin LaSalle) around his daily toil in, around, and under the streets of Paris as he ponders what the ramifications of what he’s doing and is pursued by a police inspector. As with Bresson at his finest, though, the story is only a by-product of what the director explores in emotionally strip-mined action, acting, and dialogue, creating cinema as philosophical treatise and dipping into familiarly Dostoevkian crime and punishment waters here. Still, his wordless scenes of Michel and the loose, thieving gang he falls into working the subway stations and trains—with their exquisite cinematography choreography and patient editing—retain their dazzle. If Mouchette or the devastating The Devil, Probably struck too pitch-black notes, Pickpocket offers a less severe entryway into the director’s humane ascetic realm.

E-mail Bret McCabe

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