Originally published on August 1, 2013
The Marfa Film Festival was a weird experience and not because most of the films left me feeling depressed. One thing to note about living in a small town is that you’re constantly running into the same people. It’s a small area to cover. It’s just gonna happen.
That happened to me with the cast and crew from Exiles that weekend. I ran into them at some screenings and at some of the food places, and they even joined me on a few occasions. That just wouldn’t happen in Austin.
I first interviewed Exiles director Tommy Bertelsen and actors Troian Bellisario and Shane Coffey (you might know those two from this little bitty TV show, Pretty Little Liars) to promote the film. When I saw the film was premiering in Marfa, I immediately used my journalism ninja skills to find contact info and set up an interview with Tommy. I thought it would just be an interview with him, and that would have been OK, but when I got the email saying we would be joined by Spencer Hastings and Holden Strauss, I got nervous.
I was so nervous to do this interview because it was my first Talk at Ten for the radio station, and it was with two people who’ve appeared on a TV show I watch on a weekly basis. We all know how hard it is to tame the fangirl for interviews like this.
But it came out fine. I guess they were in agreement because they joined me in the studio during the festival for a follow-up.
Days after that initial interview happened, things started to get weird. Shane added me on Twitter. When I promoted the interview before it aired, Troian retweeted one of those tweets and they both added me on Instagram. Social media blew up on my end.
And here I thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt replying to one of my tweets many SXSWs ago was the peak of my social media existence thus far. Nope. I have now seen the intensity that is Pretty Little Liars fandom, and gotta say, it’s pretty amusing. I now know when Troian likes or retweets anything I post, because I’ll glance at my phone and have at least 20 notifications in 30 seconds. I’ve learned to put my phone away when this happens and just come back to it later.
But I gotta say, everyone I met from the film… super nice.
Now to the film…
I loved Exiles. I’m not even wearing rose-colored glasses because I’m a shameless Pretty Little Liars fan. I was obsessed with Romeo and Juliet in high school. It was sparked by Leonardo DiCaprio, but I also read the story in my freshman English class, rewrote it to today’s English for a group project and watched two versions of the movie in that same class. If I could somehow drop a R+J reference in conversation, I would. See? Obsessed.
For those that haven’t read the book or don’t remember anything educational from their teenage years (I don’t blame you, Shakespeare’s’ language is pretty tough/boring), basically Romeo and Juliet fall in love at first sight for each other, parents aren’t thrilled about it, shit happens and spoiler alert: they kill themselves. Teenage angst at its finest.
Exiles shows what would have happened if they didn’t die. What would have happened if Friar Laurence’s plan had worked: Romeo leaves town, Juliet plays dead and they eventually meet up after her “funeral?”
Real life would have happened, that’s what.
Since the film is under 25 minutes, it’s really just a quick glance of these two lovers as they discover they might not be best suited for each other after all. There’s not much dialogue, but the actions portrayed by Troian and Shane really speak louder than words, and it’s a bit heartbreaking to watch their facial expressions betray how they really feel. After all, this couple is “the greatest love story the world has ever known.” I mean, if they couldn’t work it out, it doesn’t give that much hope for the rest of us common people.
Ok, scratch that. It was pretty obvious from the get-go that this couple wasn’t meant to be. Think about it. Romeo killed Juliet’s cousin. So the guy has some anger management issues to deal with. Sure, Tybalt was an aggressive jerk who killed Romeo’s best friend and provoked Romeo just because of his last name, but still… He was the love of his life’s cousin. And Juliet was your typical 13-year-old only child that turned to prayer with tears in her eyes in times of need. Obviously, there was gonna be some couples counseling in the future.
My point is that, from personal experience, relationships can be work. Even Ben Affleck said in his most recent Oscar acceptance speech that his marriage to Jennifer Garner is work. It’s the best kind of work and there’s no one he’d rather work with, but it is still work. Apparently, he got some flack for that, but whatever, I’m on Team Ben. I agree with him.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some bitter single woman who always has bad luck with guys (that comes from my social awkwardness) and I’m just trying to share my rainy cloud onto you. It’s awesome to find someone that gives you the giggles, the butterflies and everything else every sung about in a boy band song. Sometimes it just doesn’t always end happily ever after, and Exiles shows that.