If The Pleasure of Being Robbed is the future of American independent film, than perhaps consideration should be given to blowing the whole thing up. With the same twee preciousness conveyed by its title, Joshua Safdie’s debut strives for DV-filtered New Wave breeziness, yet without the verve, grace or wit of its landmark French purveyors, what it actually amounts to is a preeminent example of what happens when filmmaking tools become accessible to people with nothing to say. Eléonore (Eléonore Hendricks) is a NYC kleptomaniac who steals whatever she can—purses, grapes, DVDs, a car, a young girl’s dog and kittens—for no discernable reason other than that she’s an amoral cretin. She is unpleasant, but more importantly, she’s deeply uninteresting, a vapid nobody who aimlessly bounces around in search of the next thing to snatch. Uninteresting is also how one might describe Safdie’s direction, which despite lingering close-ups on hands and sensitive garage rock, has a dull, flat inexpressiveness to match its insipid (yet strenuously romanticized) protagonist. Pleasure of Being Robbed affects an air of expressionistic realism but has no interest in actual believability, with Eléonore a figment of a dull imagination whose story is rife with grating illogicalities, from her ability to afford a Manhattan apartment through pinching wallets, to her magical ability to learn, in a matter of seconds, how to drive (as well as afford gas to travel to and from Boston). Not a single lovely image appears to enliven this dithering tale, a serious problem considering the wealth of scenes that are punctuated by only traces of barely functional dialogue. The action, as it were, ends with an excruciatingly affected, woolly fantasy sequence involving a polar bear and a penguin, thereby cementing one’s impression that the film would be better off being called The Pleasure of Being Shot, with Eléonore on the receiving end of the bullet.
- IFC Films
- 71 min
- Joshua Safdie
- Joshua Safdie, Eléonore Hendricks
- Eléonore Hendricks, Joshua Safdie, Wayne Chin, Jordan Zaldez, Jerry Damons
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