Michel takes up his craft and, as his skill develops, so does his obsessive practice. “Lives and events are not explained or motivated; the film’s genius is in cutting such material away, leaving only direct presentation. The exhilarating virtuoso sequences of pickpocketing on the métro, in stations and at the races are good examples of this” (Rick J. Thompson, Senses of Cinema.com). Salvation through love, through attaining grace, a Freudian exercise – interpretations abound. (75 mins)
Dir: Robert Bresson, France 1959


“Very ‘nouvelle vague’! This was Dostoevsky boiled down to 1¼hrs.”

“Vintage French existentialist stuff!”

“A grim, grey, dour film – Dostoevskian is right.”

“A Gallic Crime and Punishment – minus the scintillating dialogue.”

“Fascinating but cold and uninvolving. The parallel with Crime and Punishment seemed unconvincing. After a year or two in Italy and England, Michel was still wearing the same shabby suit!”

“Marvellous faces but the real stars were the doors after being shut – and the stairs …. Surely some of those wallets must have ended up in their owners’ pockets?”

“Improbable – the ruined suit that lasted for ever, the stringy tie but very absorbing. Black and White gratefully received.”

“A lot of doors …”

“All those footsteps …”

“It seems “You’ve got to pick a pocket or two ….” but I prefer Oliver!”

“The only film I have ever seen where no-one smiled at any time. Stylish, though.”

“The only French film where I was able to understand every word without the sub-titles. Everyone should now be proficient in an old craft, should they fall on hard times!”

“I decided to leave my wallet at home tonight – just in case!”

“A puzzling story. Did he ever change his shirt?”

“Rather wooden acting. The music of (Jean Baptiste) Lully seemed at odds with the story – a pity, as the dialogue was quite good.”

“So relieved he found some feelings in the end!”

“Very dull and boring – interesting street scenes, though.”

“Was there a second reel which would (have) answer(ed) all the questions?”

“Je me suis ennuyée!”

“Thank goodness it was short!”

“It would have got an E but it was mercifully short. Rubbish. What was the reason for showing this?”

“If there had been any paint, this would have been like watching it dry!”


A:4, B:11, C:15, D:5, E:1 to give 58%