Co-presented by the French Film and TV Office

Considering all the innocuous films that have been censored for their subversive ideas, it’s amazing that Pickpocket, Bresson’s deeply seductive user manual for the art of petty theft, was never locked up. It deconstructs a soul’s journey away from and back to God, granted, but the film also functions as a genuine tutorial. Training your eyes to hone in automatically on pricey accessories, Bresson instructs the viewer like Penn and Teller, doubling each gesture, showing you the trick first and then revealing his secret. The impressive sleights of hand were performed and advised by “Kassagi,” a Tunisian pickpocket who, cast in the film essentially as himself, went on to become a famous magician. The film’s hero, Michel—looking childlike in suits that don’t quite fit while fancying himself a Nietzschean superthief—alienates himself from his already-scant kin as he sinks deeper into the inherent sexual excitement of theft, toying precariously with the very real police.

Dir. Robert Bresson, 1959, 35mm, 75 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!