SXSW is full of indie film fair of all varieties shapes and sizes. One of those indie films we got the chance to check out was an interesting film called Pet Names. The film stars Rene Cruz as Cam and Meredith Johnston as Leigh, as two ex's that decide to go on a weekend camping trip together. What starts off as a fun and carefree weekend slowly turns into something more making them question their relationship and leaving them both looking for more.
This film was sort of a trip for me to watch because it really took me some time to really absorb the material. I don't like giving reviews until I fully come to terms with what I have seen (which also sounds like the douchiest thing I have ever said, but it is true). I don't want to make snap judgments about a film, especially indie films which are usually made as a labor of love. So initially I didn't get this movie at all. The catch is that I kept mentally coming back to it and really thinking about the situations and the characters in the film and the more I did the more I realized I really did like this movie. Our lead character Leigh seems like a bit of a mess who doesn't know what she wants. She is taking care of her sick mom and has had to drop out of school. That is a lot of pressure for anyone. Cam her ex-boyfriend whom she sees here and there as is friendly with seems like a nice guy (I think you have to be to go on a trip with your Ex who you aren't really friends with anymore, right?) and comes off as really likable. When they get to the campground they are joking about setting each other up with other people, but you can already feel the tension between these two despite them not wanting to acknowledge it. They actually seem perfect for each other, but can never sync up. It is a lot of touches a go and it is almost like they are reliving their relationship all over again over the course of a weekend. Jealousy and bickering bring the feel-good vibe of the weekend down fast and all the reasons that they didn't work out seem to sneak up on them from the confines of this random campground. Go figure.
This film was sort of an emotional rollercoaster and much like the characters in it you may or may not find closure with how it ends. I feel like I am still looking for mine even as I type this. Any film that can get my wheels spinning this much scores an easy A from me. Director Carol Brandt and actress/writer Meredith Johnston have done something really interesting and special here and I think this film deserves to be watch and pondered. Nice work ladies! Not sure on the wide release date for Pet Names but definitely keep your eyes peeled for it!