Pet Shop Days

Pet Shop Days (Dir. Olmo Schnabel)

By: Adam Freed

Note to the Reader: This review contains spoilers.  Movie Archer’s spoiler free policy has been intentionally violated in the hopes of sparing  loyal followers the hardship of bearing witness to the unthinkable. 

There is very good reason for anticipation within the first 10 minutes of Olmo Schnabel’s gritty thriller Pet Shop Days.  Unfortunately, what follows lives up to none of the goodwill earned in the disjointed slog’s first decade of minutes.  The opening credits promote promising names such as Peter Sarsgaard, Willem Dafoe and Spanish crossover star Jordi Molla.  Even the aesthetically pleasing Pet Shop Days title card hums with a neon glow, which when added to the opening sequence, leaves the door to optimism wide open.  That door is slammed repeatedly though by way of a fractured story that is completely absent of all logic.

This is not to say that Pet Shop Days is completely without merit.  There are a number of blurry drug induced graphic sexual encounters that establish nothing other than to define the wavering sexual preference of main characters Alejandro and Jack.  Perhaps if audiences crave poorly planned and executed felonious acts, unmoored to the realities defined by each character's circumstances, then this film will certainly satisfy.  Why a character raised and bankrolled by wealthy parents would commit smash and grab robberies, may end up being one of film history’s greatest mysteries.  Equally perplexing is how the disturbed son of a wealthy Mexican family could kill his own mother in a hit and run and then flee to distant New York City without facing any form of domestic repercussions prior to escaping his native country?  For audiences who survive beyond the half hour mark of this film in search of answers rest uneasy, because there are none forthcoming.

The king of all offenses in what is a nightmarish hellscape of disconnected story fragments, is one in which Alejandro and Jack hire a prostitute for standard purposes, yet discharge her from her duties in the wake of her having a catastrophically violent defecation, therefore offending the drug addicted felons due to the fecal  remnants that are left in the pay by the hour hotel bathroom.  It should be added with clarity that this film is not a comedy.  Suffice it to say that Pet Shop Boys directed by Olmo Schnabel is without question one of the more disjointed, yet clearly identifiable mistakes of the film year.  

Pet Shop Boys was screened in conjunction with Movie Archers coverage of the 59th Annual Chicago International Film Festival. 

Target Score: 2/10 - The film genuinely offers a compelling opening sequence, and is followed by a stylistically appealing title card.  Beyond this, there is absolutely nothing redeeming about this movie.