There are no moments to breathe in Jeremiah Kipp's latest short film, the involving and disturbing Pickup, a film written by Jessica Blank and starring Mandy Evans as Megan, whose facade of normalcy with a seemingly idyllic marriage, comfortable home and beautiful son masks a harsh yet not particularly uncommon secret. Megan's controlled family life is shaken by her destructive addiction, an addiction that if discovered could destroy everything.
At a mere 15 minutes in length, Pickup throws the truth in our faces quickly and never, not even for a single moment, lets up as Kipp, an increasingly in demand indie director, goes darker than usual yet never compromises authenticity along the way.
It helps to have an actress the caliber of Evans, whose ability to capture Megan's inner struggles while maintaining a calm exterior is essential to the character's remaining sympathetic even as her actions put both herself and her child's welfare in peril.
Evans, who as a piece of fun trivia used to be a Radio City Rockette, indeed really rocks the screen as Mandy and offers a layered, complex performance devoid of the usual one-note tendencies we so often find with this type of character. Evans's Mandy is, or at least tries to be, a loving mother but there's something desperately unsettled deep inside of her and she's living out that inner chaos in increasingly unstable ways. Young Griffin Robert Faulkner, whom you may recognize from the recent It Comes at Night, is also a gem as young Liam while The Wire's Jim True-Frost isn't tasked with much complexity but adds layers of intrigue as Megan's husband, Ben.
Eric Giovon's lensing casts constant shadows, a wonderfully effective approach that makes the film's more jarring scenes less graphic and more emotionally impactful. Giovanni Spinnelli's original music is also a sublime complement to the unnerving film.
Pickup continues on the film fest circuit and most recently screened in late June at the Soho International Film Festival. Yet another success for the impressive Jeremiah Kipp, the film's lingering impact also speaks volumes about the gifted storytelling of Jessica Blank. If you get a chance, definitely check out the film for yourself.