Robert Bresson is considered one of the great masters in the art form of the cinema and his film Pickpocket center around such spiritual themes which include salvation, sin, redemption, morality and the defining and revealing of the human soul. The main protagonist is named Michel; a man whose looks are very ordinary and plain; is neither handsome nor ugly; and has the perfect demeanour to blend into the background, and disappear within a crowd unnoticed. Michel is a professional pickpocket and thief, a character who leaves a completely isolated life; emotionally detached from others and of the outside world. Pickpocket is considered a contemporary version of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment as film critic Roger Ebert states, "Bresson's Michel, like Dostoyevsky's hero Raskolnikov, needs money in order to realize his dreams, and sees no reason why some lackluster ordinary person should not be forced to supply it. The reasoning is immoral, but the characters claim special privileges above and beyond common morality."
Michel's character in Pickpocket seems to gets a sort of erotic gratification and psycho-sexual release when stealing from others: To stand extremely close to his victims; to feel their light breathing and subtle body movements and reactions. When the moment is just right, he goes in using his quickness and stealth, and takes what he can from them. It's no coincidence that when another pickpocket catches Michel in the act, it is in a men's room where their liaison involves money as a substitute for sex. Pickpocket became a huge influence to the writer and director Paul Schrader whose screenplay for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver bears many similarities, including a confessional narration and a voyeuristic look at society, obsession and isolation. Pickpocketing becomes a form of addiction for Michel, similar to a drug addict or alcoholic, he surrenders his temptations and compulsions to steal, as it slowly consumes and takes over him.