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A cinematic jewel. The execution of the pickpocket scenes were entrancing.
Robert Bresson's Pickpocket is undoubtedly an influential film, an early example of the criminal without a motive, doing what he does because he can, and because he's convinced himself there's virtue in it, something embraced be later crime drama. Indeed, Martin LaSalle's Michel is on a quest to FIND a motive for his crimes, paying his mother's bills or her caretaker's (played by France's answer to Natalie Portman, Marika Green), but it's never truly convincing. Only in the ironic finish is he "freed" by an actual human connection. But here's the problem. LaSalle is a sleight of hand expert - and consequently, the most interesting part of the film is the pickpocketing choreography that will have you checking your pockets in public places hereafter - but not a professional actor, and while that does support the character's disconnectedness, he walks through the film stone-faced and it all seems very stagey. People moving to marks and reading dialog at a director's command, but as lifeless puppets. But it seems to be the style, because no one much emotes, perhaps as a correction so LaSalle's acting doesn't seem too out of place.
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In 19 official lists
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This movie ranks #22 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #26 in The Times's 100 Best French Films
This movie ranks #29 in Cahiers du Cinéma's 100 Films for an Ideal Cinematheque
This movie ranks #52 in Time Out's The 100 Best French Films
This movie ranks #59 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #79 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #122 in Anthology Film Archives's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #147 in Harvard's Suggested Film Viewing: Narrative Films
This movie ranks #228 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #277 in BFI's 360 Classic Feature Films Project
This movie ranks #338 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #342 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #423 in Amos Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art
This movie ranks #455 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #515 in Cahiers du Cinéma's Annual Top 10 Lists
This movie ranks #572 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
This movie ranks #693 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #717 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #993 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown