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Pickpocket PG rating

Bresson’s hugely influential study of a petty thief in late 50s Paris is one of his most widely acclaimed films.

Drama 1959 76 mins

Director: Robert Bresson


Uncomplainingly jobless in late 50s Paris, Michel (Martin LaSalle, making his film debut) starts stealing from strangers, for reasons unclear even to himself. He spouts vague theories about exceptional individuals being above the law – but is he lost in another world, as Jeanne, a young woman he halfheartedly befriends, tells him? Intentionally not a thriller but certainly not without suspense, Bresson’s film is profoundly ambivalent about Michel’s ethics, sexuality (he seems aroused by his thefts), his capacity for compassion and his courtship of suspicion in others. His isolation, however, is undeniable. A riveting morality tale reminiscent of Hitchcock and inspired by Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, this is one of Bresson's most influential works.

Ranked joint 136th in the 2022 Sight and Sound Great Films of All Time poll