BFI London Film Festival: Pickups

Directed by Jamie Thraves
Starring Aidan Gillen, Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Camille O’Sullivan
Screening at LFF October 8th, 12th, 2017

by Joanna Orland

“I’m working with Jamie, making this weird film,” says fictional Aidan in Pickups, a film where real life crosses over into fiction and vice versa. Actor Aidan Gillen plays a variation of himself, in an intensely meta film that explores the darker side of fame and the difficulty of separating the actor from his characters.

As a surrealist vision of life as a moderately famous actor, Pickups never quite gains momentum. In his latest role of a serial killer, fictional Aidan’s killings bleed into his everyday life as he takes the art of method acting too far. Aidan meshes his fictional life within Pickups with the film within the film, as well as meshing his actual real life with the film Pickups itself.

If this all sounds horribly confusing, well that’s because it is. While I understand the portrait of an actor dealing with fame and the art of immersing oneself into a role, the execution of Pickups is too experimental to be taken seriously. Scenes of Aidan interacting with fans, and the positive and negative experiences that go along with that territory, are fun to watch and do good to explore the pitfalls of fame. The rest of it is far too abstract to garner a takeaway. This is a stunted cinematic experience, that plays better as a concept rather than an actual film.


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