Saturday, December 24, 2016
MICROBE & GASOLINE (2016)
Written & Directed By: Michel Gondry
Cinematography By: Laurent Brunet
Editor: Elise Fievet
Cast: Ange Dargent, Theophile Baquet, Audrey Tatou, Diane Besnier, Ely Penh
Two young friends embark on a road trip across France in a vehicle they built themselves.
I wish I could say that this was something different. It comes to a coming of age story. While it is a good film. It stays within the limits of a coming of age film while setting itself apart in minor ways.
It has the traditional style and demeanor of director Michel Gondry, but here he goes a little lighter on the whimsy than usual. As this film has it's surreal moments. It doesn't let it overpower the film and narrative as much as he has been guilty of before. Here he dials it back a bit that lets the story and performances take over instead of letting the art direction take over and make itself the star. Which has been the case with many of his films.
He is trying on more substance and less style. As the film feels more organic and very much alive with it’s own spirit
Even as the set-up is a bit ridiculous it makes sense in the films universe and isn't that distracting. It comes off as silly but inventive. Which is what half the ideas and things you do and experience In youth can be all about.
Here the coming of age film element is only highlighted by the surreal imagery and outlandish story. That is essentially a road trip that finally begins about a half hour after laying. The groundwork and once it finally begins. It does have a certain energy. It also lends itself to the simple and never lets it's sense of wonder fail.
As the film does expose the teenagers to the dangers of the grown up world. While also having them deal with the more adult and more seedy side. Though he characters still manage to keep an innocence and intelligence about them.
The film is fun and stays active while it keeps going.
The characters have a chemistry as they are supposedly opposites and then manage to have the complaints and complexities of adult characters, but you can understand why they are more sensitive at their age going through growing pains.
Their parents are around and do love and care for them for the most part. Where as microbes character has more the sensitive parent with his mother being more in the forefront and his father in the background. Though not emotional. Gasoline's parents are a. It more right around the edges as his mother is caring but tough and his father just seems to barely be able to stand him. Which is where the film feels less fantasy and more real.
Though you can understand the reason for escape for one of them. The only reason for the other character is more as being a companion and an escape from his parents doomed marriage.
Both characters have plenty of charm but seem to only make sense to or. Another as microbe is more the sensitive romantic artist and gasoline more the masculine mechanic.
Girls do come up but seem more like either romantic crushes or sexualized objects of lust if it an adult parental figure. The film flys by so fast you never want it to end and are shocked at how fast, it goes by.
The film does include late confusing elements, That seem to add to the film. Only because the film Might have run out of steam and needs somewhere to go or add something to the mix that lets it stay inventive and unexpected.
The film Keeps a French sensibility. A film that feels timeless and like it could have been made in the past except for a few modern touches and inventions. Though it always stays creative and represents a Rebellious nature and a sense of trying to find an identity as there is a longing to belong amongst most of the characters even beyond the main ones.
It ends unexpectedly, but leaves you wondering. As that sometimes is the fate of people not only in films but also in life. As we have followed the characters and expect to stay or leave them in a good place instead of more in a troubled one. Though it shows that this film was really just a slice of life more than just a story or particular adventure. It is the document of a friendship that hopefully there is more to it might actually just be a chapter of each of their lives.
As even as the film ends it seems to let the point of view of the film change also.