Essentially a mumblecore version of Pickpocket—sans the moral and existential high stakes, and with dollops of Miranda July–style fancy thrown in—Joshua Safdie’s The Pleasure of Being Robbed operates under the curious assumption that we should all be so lucky as to come into contact with its seemingly fearless protagonist. Her name is Eléonore (Eleanore Hendricks), and she scratches her kleptomaniacal itch in ways at once crafty and cute, feigning familiarity with a complete stranger as a pretext to steal the woman’s handbag. Among the booty Eleanore will sort through over the course of her darling crime spree: a furry dog, a family of kittens, and a copy of Nicolas Sarkozy’s Témoignage, untranslated no less. The keys to a Volvo will lead her and a biker friend, Josh (Safdie), from New York to Boston, where the film reveals its agenda: Though its improvisational style is never grating—thanks in part to the perpetually stumbled-upon performances—this whimsical gust of nothing is really just Safdie’s way of sorting through his real-life feelings for Hendricks. You end up watching the film as though you were blundering in on something intimate, knowing that it exists mainly for its own maker’s pleasure—and rarely for ours.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 1, 2008