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Pickups review – Aidan Gillen laughs at himself as he turns killer in meta-film

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Directed by Jamie Thraves, the Game of Thrones actor’s sketches about the travails of mid-range celebrity are full of likable self-mockery

Like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm or Matt LeBlanc in Episodes, the Irish actor Aidan Gillen plays an actor called Aidan Gillen in this scrappy, low-fi meta-musing on fame and life as a jobbing actor. Gillen, who co-wrote the script with director Jamie Thraves, runs the risk here of looking like a raging narcissist by making a film all about himself. Instead he sketches the travails of mid-range celebrity with likable self-mockery. The film’s running gag is that his character is constantly being recognised as “that fella off the TV” by people who then won’t believe it’s really him. “Nah. The guy I’m thinking of is much younger looking than you.”

Pickups is Gillen’s third film with Thraves, after The Low Down and Treacle Jr, two authentic, tiny-budget London dramas. Since Treacle Jr in 2010, he has become stop-you-in-the-street famous playing Machiavellian brothel owner Petyr Baelish in Game of Thrones. This film, with its feel of an experimental side project, seems to be his attempt to process that.

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