According to Wikipedia, a picaresque novel depicts the adventures of a roguish, but "appealing hero", of low social class, who lives by his wits in a corrupt society:

  • A picaresque narrative is usually written in first person as an autobiographical account.
  • The main character is often of low character or social class. He or she gets by with wits and rarely deigns to hold a job.
  • There is little or no plot. The story is told in a series of loosely connected adventures or episodes.
  • There is little if any character development in the main character. Once a pícaro, always a pícaro. His or her circumstances may change but these rarely result in a change of heart.
  • The pícaro's story is told with a plainness of language or realism.
  • Satire is sometimes a prominent element.
  • The behavior of a picaresque hero or heroine stops just short of criminality. Carefree or immoral rascality positions the picaresque hero as a sympathetic outsider, untouched by the false rules of society.

The Comic Strip Presents did a couple of stories that fit the above description, except for being on screen, not in a written format.

The one I'm most familiar with is Gino: Full Story and Pics in which a man hiding from the police for an undisclosed reason has a series of episodic adventures, meeting a writer, a London cab driver, a young woman (who accompanies him for the rest of the story), a crazed motorist, a loveless couple, etc. Practically no characters reappear once their episode is finished.

Gino gets by with his wits alone. There is little plot until the end, the story being a series of loosely connected adventures. There is no character development. The story is shot fairly realistically and some characters Gino meets could be considered satiric. Gino does commit some criminal acts, but at first only because of circumstance.

Is there a name for this genre of film, or would you just call it a picaresque film following the name of the style of novel?

  • I think there is a misunderstanding here: picaresque novel is a narrative subgenre and in films you dont have that subgenre. I think there is not such amount of "picaresque films" to need that specific subgenre. – mrvinent Jan 24 '20 at 14:00

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