The Pleasure of Being Robbed



Cannes Film Festival, Directors' Fortnight

This American indie, directed by first-time filmmaker Josh Safdie, begins very promisingly. Eleonore is a free spirit, living in New York, and she steals all manner of things, apparently just for the hell of it.

Safdie front-loads his film with the most humorous encounters, as for example when she keeps hollering different women's names across the street until a woman looks up, allowing Eleonore to pretend she's an old friend, making it easier to lift her purse. Next she picks up a package a well-to-do man has momentarily left outside a hotel, and when she gets the package home, she finds out she has stolen a dog and four kittens.

It's when she steals a car and drives a friend to Boston that the film runs out of gas. He has to teach her to drive first, and while that's initially good for a few laughs, they quickly dry up. This is followed by an absurd rather than funny contretemps with some policemen who arrest her for going through a woman's purse, and then allow her to cavort among the (obviously fake) animals in the Central Park zoo.

After that, the director goes all Romanian on us, following Eleonore around the city as she performs meaningless tasks. It is only from its catalog entry that we learn this film is a "portrait of loneliness," but alas, never from the film itself.