VOD film review: The Pleasure of Being Robbed
How lived-in it feels10
Shared Safdie DNA10
Ian Loring | On 11, Jan 2020Reading time: 3 mins
Director: Josh Safdie
Cast: Eleonore Hendricks, Josh Safdie
Watch The Pleasure of Being Robbed online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Prime Video (Buy/Rent)
With the Safdie Brothers unleashing Uncut Gems, the most viscerally stimulating film of any awards season in recent years, it’s exciting to go back to their early days with The Pleasure of Being Robbed. while not being the smash in the face that Uncut Gems is, it remains an idiosyncratic, wholly Safdie-feeling piece of work.
Josh Safdie is making his directorial debut here, but Benny Safdie gets official credit with more below-the-line work; the through-line from 2008 film to Good Time and Uncut Gems is clear. The Safdies see hustling, living-life-the only-way-they-know-how figures as their muses and Eleonore Hendricks, who also gets screenplay credit here, feels of a piece with the work that Robert Pattinson and Adam Sandler have done for the brothers. Playing Eléonore, she is someone who is weirdly engaging but you know would be bad for your health in the long-term. She floats through life seemingly oblivious to the damage she does to those around her, but this never feels malicious; she lives her life in a way that just seems to work and, while her actions at times do seem extreme and calculated, the time spent with her creates a more subtle, damaged picture.
City streets and the people who walk them are also highlighted as an early obsession for the Safdies. Shot on 16mm, this feels like a 90s indie film created in the 2000s and the lived-in feel of the cinematography makes the grainy imagery that much more vibrant. There’s no mistaking this is a low-budget film but the sheer almost-documentary vibe leaves its marks after you’ve finished watching.
The number of bit-parts given to real characters also feels like their casting call was just down on the street, to great effect. The film opens with a man randomly complimenting people around him, something that today could be seen as sarcastic but here, it just feels warm. Josh Safdie himself plays a friend of Eléonore, who seems to want to be more than that but never forces the issue. It’s not a film of much dramatic incident, despite the amount of crimes being depicted on screen, but you do feel like you’ve been through a journey by the end, one that doesn’t wrap thing up with a bow but feels more essential for it.
The Pleasure of Being Robbed rather sneaks up on you; you worry about the level of quirk at the start, but quickly get won over. It’s a film that isn’t about all that much but has a great depth of feeling to it. The Safdies has since gotten better with their storytelling but their mood was ingrained early on.
The Pleasure of Being Robbed is available on MUBI UK, as part of a £9.99 monthly subscription, until 4th February 2020.