Review: “Microbe and Gasoline” Marks the Return of Gondry’s Whimsical Brand of Genius



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Posted November 5, 2016 by

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When I think of Michel Gondry, my mind usually goes straight to his incredibly imaginative elements of fantasy, in works such as “Science of Sleep” and “Mood Indigo”. The French filmmaker is a masterful storyteller, who uses strangely wonderful creations and oddly compelling characters, to pull his audience into the universe of his wild imagination. In his new film “Microbe and Gasoline”, Gondry (mostly) abandons those calling cards in favor of a more touching story of two young, lonely young boys who grow up, while on a road trip across France.

Daniel (Ange Dargent in his first film) is an isolated, young man. Constantly mistaken for a girl, and nicknamed “Microbe” by his schoolmates, because of his stature, he is socially frustrated and sick of being overlooked. All of that begins to change, when a new student, Théo (Théophile Baquet), shows up and draws similar mockery for smelling like gasoline. The two quickly realize they have quite a bit in common, and begin to forge a close friendship. Both craving a more grand existence, they put their unique talents (Daniel is a gifted artist, and Théo a mechanical whiz) to use, and build a motorized house. With their newly acquired, mobile freedom, they hit the road in search of adventure and some grownup experiences.

microbe-2“Microbe and Gasoline” may have a more grounded-in-reality feel to it, but there is a distinct Gondry charm that pulsates throughout each scene. The conversations between the boys, containing embarrassing confessions and shared dreams, provide revelations that allow both boys to understand and cope with the difficulties of adolescence. The films, much like the adolescent protagonists, brims with charming oddities but that doesn’t prevent it from it’s goal of telling a sweet, yet sad, coming of age tale.

It has always saddened me that, any time I bring up Mr. Gondry’s films in conversation, the only movies people know him from are “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Green Hornet” (his two American-made films). He is an immensely gifted writer and director, with a splendidly unique style. Hopefully, this movie will garner him some more attention in the states, as it is probably his most accessible French project. I strongly suggest watching it, and basically everything else he has made. You can think me later!




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