Hot Docs 2019: “The Pickup Game” (2019) ★★★★

How should I start describing “The Pickup Game”? As a woman, I will do my best to leave who I am, my opinion, my belief, and expectations aside to provide the most objective review possible to ensure it doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings or sound insulting or becomes too personal. I promise to be as professional as possible because that’s how it’s supposed to be. In fact, this is the least I can do for some of its documentary subjects who, unfortunately, are not treated with respect. The subjects were those who give birth to life – women.

“The Pickup Game”, is a documentary every woman and man should see. Its concept is crying, damning, and too brutal. But it uncovers the reality we live in. It follows the multi-million dollar industry that teaches how to seduce a woman. If the seduction sounds too romantic, it never appears to be the case, not even a bit. Self-described coaches travel the world to teach young students known as the Pickup Students to have the date of their dreams. While some of the students are unaware of the darker side of their coaching sessions, they fall for it while those who make a fortune lead the most outrageous concept in their mind – get as many women as they can, play them, and punish them in the end by taking them to bed.

This film, let’s be clear, does not demonize men – because it simply does not. Through the shocking interviews, we meet the various Pick Up Artists and one of them is Paul Janka, a pickup student named Andrew, and Ross Jeffries, the author of “How to Get The Women You Desire Into Bed”. Through dramatic revelations, we are drawn into the underground world of men who teach how to approach women, victimizing them, and at some point, comparing them as an ‘obedient dog’ that will do what she was told to. All these interviews, especially the footages of Julien Blanc, will probably make everyone sick to the stomach as it opens up a Pandora’s box of disturbed minds of certain individuals who somehow are too angry at women for unjustifiable reasons.

Minnie Lane, a dating and personal development coach provides her insight into the world that should shock everyone, and especially every woman. Again, it highlights what we all must avoid – deception and perception.  As we all know every man has a mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and many other female members in their family. So the question is, why some of them so inexplicably despise women? This film manages to answer to that question if one leaves their emotions aside and be as logical as possible, you will certainly notice that. As it provides a fair look into men’s personality, it also shows the possibility of getting better, changing and growing wiser, which is a key moment for “The Pickup Game”.

Co-Directed by brothers Matthew and Barnaby O’Connor, “The Pickup Game” is like a long-lost letter. As soon as you unfold it to begin reading, it will cause you to stumble and leave you speechless throughout. But once you reach towards the end, it will provide some comforting feeling, that in the end, we can’t generalize all the men with certain individuals we meet in the film. Most men are genuine, nice, caring and true gentlemen. And the story you see in this film should be served as a lesson both for men and women to never forget one important thing – never stop being inclusive with every person you meet in every interaction you have, in everything you do. Because that is what will produce respect and dignity so that others who lack it can pick up from you the same attitude. Not everything is a game – especially life itself that can be lived once, and hopefully, in a respectful way.

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