Should all theft be bad, especially when poverty is behind it? That is the question that Michel the main character asks his friend, Jacques. In the film Michel takes up the hobby of picking pockets as a manner to express himself. He first tries his luck at the racetrack where he gets caught, only to be released since having cash is not a crime. Also, by being caught Michel ponders the morality of crime. Michel’s mother is ill and he decides to provide her with money instead of visiting. Also, Michel tries to explain how society should turn a blind eye to certain kinds of theft. Despite his friend trying to help Michel find a job, he continues to steal.
While talking with the police inspector, Michel explains his theory on stealing about “supermen” who are above the law. These “supermen” are certain skilled men with gifts and talent who should be free to disobey laws. So Michel continues this adventure as a reason to live and find his place within society. The success made him continue due to more luck than skills. Michel explains to his friend about having no work, living on nothing but that didn’t matter to him. Michel later befriends a thief who shows him new tricks, whom taught him generously and free. After the death of his mother, he ponders how we will be judged? Michel says that being judged by laws is absurd. His friend, Jeanne responds back by saying that Michel believes in nothing.
The director of the film focuses on the different methods the thieves use to pickpocket. Also, the different ways money is used throughout the film, showing how money passes hands from one person to another for different reasons. There are also the different sounds the director uses to emphasis the urgency and sounds of the city. During another encounter with the police inspector, the inspector asks Michel if stealing from your Mom is not stealing. That maybe the Mom and the son were pooling their resources together. Yet, Michel knew that the police were suspicious of him because he lived with no income. Michel says how knowing a deed is bad doesn’t necessarily stop you from doing it. Because for him stealing was a way to get ahead, he felt frustrated and was getting nowhere. Even though his friend, Jeanne said there were other ways of doing so than stealing. Jeanne accepted her burden saying that is how it is, that everything has a reason.
At the end of the film, Michel did not know what he was doing. He decides to leave Paris and eventually ends up in England, when the other thieves are arrested. Michel returns to Paris penniless and drifting, until he discovered Jeanne has a child and wants to help. He tries to convince her that he wants to be honest.
Yet, he goes back to the racetrack once more to pickpocket only to get caught there again. For Michel just the idea of getting caught was unbearable. While being in prison, Michel realized the connection to the world he had lost. The film showed the strange path that Michel took for him to connect with Jeanne and how love can change his whole life. Also, the film shows the faith and redemption from the spiritual void the main character had dealt with throughout the story.