There’s a great tradition of messy but great movies about couples who bring out the weirdness in each other and end up doing all sorts of bad things. Unfortunately, Pet Shop Daysa directorial debut from writer and producer Olmo Schnabel (son of Julian Schnabel), is simply chaotic and never glorious.

Despite the built-in advantage of Willem Dafoe and Emmanuelle Seigner taking on lead roles (neither at their best), cameos from Peter Sarsgaard and Maribel Verdu, and a huge list of executive producers who should have known better (including Michel Franco and Martin Scorsese). ), this slow-paced crime drama is plagued with terrible dialogue and weak lead performances from Jack Irv (also co-screenwriter alongside Schnabel and Galen Core) and Dario Yazbek Bernal in the role of two repulsive, love-struck brats.

Pet Shop Days

The bottom line: sex, drugs and boredom.

Venue: Venice Film Festival (Horizons Extra)
Pour: Jack Irv, Dario Yazbek Bernal, Willem Dafoe, Emmanuelle Seigner, Camille Rowe, Peter Sarsgaard, Maribel Verdu
Director: Olmo Schnabel
Screenwriters: Olmo Schnabel, Jack Irv, Galen Core

1 hour 50 minutes

The opening sequence introduces us to Alejandro (Dario Yazbek Bernal, half-brother of Gael Garcia Bernal), a young man in his 20s who is cuddling in bed with Karla (Maribel Verdu) and both are reluctant to go downstairs for a party. The event is a birthday party for Karla’s husband – and Alejandro’s father – Castro (Jordi Molla), a high-ranking member of a Mexican cartel who clearly has a difficult relationship with his sullen, volatile son. The estrangement between parent and child becomes even greater when Alejandro tries to run away in the family car after an argument with Castro, but accidentally runs over Karla.

When Alejandro is next seen, he has made it to New York City. There he meets Jack (Irv), a good-looking but not too bright man, also in his 20s, who comes from a wealthier family than his lowly job at a pet store in the Bronx suggests. Jack’s father Francis (Willem Dafoe), who appears to be doing something in finance, and mother Diana (Emmanuelle Seigner) are constantly arguing, much to the chagrin of Jack and his sister Lucy (Grace Brennan). Jack and Alejandro are clearly attracted to each other and party together every chance they get. They even go so far as to hire female prostitutes to have sex with before they start copulating with each other.

The film ends in a slow middle section where not much happens as the two boys continue to party, buy drugs, use drugs, meet more sex workers and have more sex – rinse and repeat. An escort gets revenge on the boys by leaving a huge mess of excrement all over the toilet, an action painting in brown shown here in great detail for no apparent artistic reason other than shock value. Meanwhile, one of Castro’s henchmen, Walker (Louis Cancelmi), is on the hunt for Alejandro, perhaps to kill him or bring him back to Mexico to reconcile with his father, or perhaps just to buy him food and hello accept. Who knows?

Shot by DP Hunter Zimny ​​on grainy, underexposed 16mm stock, the film is clearly trying to look like a lost underground film from the late 1970s or ’80s – perhaps something from one of Andy Warhol’s acolytes or early Gregg Araki, but without the infectious energy or dramatic flair that made those films fun. This is not fun.

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