MOVIE #1,233 • 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿 • 11.13.23 P̳a̳r̳t̳ ̳o̳f̳ ̳ T̳H̳E̳ ̳S̳A̳F̳D̳I̳E̳ ̳B̳R̳O̳T̳H̳E̳R̳S̳ ̳D̳i̳r̳e̳c̳t̳o̳r̳ ̳F̳o̳c̳u̳s̳ Having ...


The Pleasure of Being Robbed

MOVIE #1,233 • 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿 • 11.13.23

P̳a̳r̳t̳ ̳o̳f̳ ̳T̳H̳E̳ ̳S̳A̳F̳D̳I̳E̳ ̳B̳R̳O̳T̳H̳E̳R̳S̳ ̳D̳i̳r̳e̳c̳t̳o̳r̳ ̳F̳o̳c̳u̳s̳

Having reviewed Good Time and Uncut Gems, I will be filling in the gaps each Monday to close out 2023 with a Director Focus on The Safdie Brothers. This first film is the only one solely credited to Josh (Benny only serves as co-editor). Shot on 16mm and clocking in at just 71 minutes, I think this could be best described as a mumblecore movie where all the cuteness is subbed out for anarchy. One could perhaps read some of its nihilistic themes and plot/stylistic choices as student film level bullshit, but I wound up really connected with it. Dedicated “to anyone who's had the pleasure of being robbed,” this seems to be about finding the joy in being violated (as told through the lens of the violator): the inevitably of bad people existing in the world and accepting that fact perhaps.

Right from the opening scene, there’s a false sense of reality which permeates throughout. Co-writer and lead actress Eleonore Hendricks is seen shouting names at a middle-aged woman across the street until she magically lands on the correct one. This is all a ruse for her to steal the lady’s purse. Without getting into the specifics of this working or the probability that she would guess the correct name before this person moved on having (rightfully) recognized the motives of the name-caller as psychotic, I think it’s safe to say that nobody has ever been robbed in this manner (or maybe it worked ONE TIME and that’s a NYC story Josh Safdie never forgot). Either way it would be easy to discard this as bad writing but this is a movie which also features a man in a polar bear suit playing with Eleanor in a river…


There’s an undeniable dreamlike quality to the picture that’s constant and which functions as a sort of antithesis to its nihilism at the forefront. Eleanor doesn't care about stealing money or stealing to survive. She steals for the rush of it.

When she’s finally caught, she sees the sentence “I WROTE SOMETHING HERE EVEN THOUGH I WAS IN HANDCUFFS” scrawled on the backseat of the cop car. This graffiti seems to be a kind of mantra for the movie: make something out of nothing even if that something is worse than nothing. And when she’s allowed to joyfully meander through the Central Park Zoo handcuffed, that also seems like a metaphor, or it’s at least symbolic of her low-level plight. As a young white woman, she’ll never really suffer the consequences of her actions, as if she’s simply cosplaying as a criminal, just another actor in a city with no short supply of them.

And I’m not sure if this reading is even close to accurate. And I don’t care. The film works regardless: as both a deconstruction of twee, low-budget films of this era and as a wonderful grainy document, a precursor or test run for what honestly might be the best Safdies’ movie to date, the following year’s Daddy Longlegs.
CHRONOLOGICALLY
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The Pleasure of Being Robbed is a 2008 American drama film directed by Josh Safdie in his feature film directorial debut. It stars Eleonore Hendricks, Josh Safdie, Jordan Zaldez, Wayne Chin, and Francesca LaPrelle. It tells the story of a kleptomaniac woman who lives in New York City. The film had its world premiere in the Emerging Visions section at the 2008 South by Southwest. It was released on March 10, 2008.

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