Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ange Dargent, Theophile Baquet, Diane Besnier, Audrey Tautou, Vincent Lamoureux, Agathe Peigney, Douglas Brosset, Charles Raymond, Ferdinand Roux-Balme, Marc Delarue
Written by: Michel Gondry
Directed by: Michel Gondry
MPAA Rating: R for some sex-related material involving young teens
Running Time: 105
Date: 07/01/2016

Microbe and Gasoline (2016)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Michel Gondry's coming-of-age road movie Microbe and Gasoline is, surprisingly, his best film since Be Kind Rewind, or even Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's a ramshackle, gritty thing, looking for all the world like a low-budget effort, and it seems as if it could have fallen apart at any moment, but it latches onto a true sense of friendship, confusion, wonder, and doubt that only the teenage years have. It's warm and heartbreaking and potent. "Microbe" -- so nicknamed because he's small -- (played by Ange Dargent) is a nerd with long, girly hair, a dreamer and a doodler whose mother (Audrey Tautou) gives him philosophy books to read. He meets new kid, "Gasoline" -- so nicknamed because he's an inventor and a tinkerer who can fix his own motor bike -- (played by Theophile Baquet). As soon as summer break starts, they embark upon building a strange, very Gondry-ian house-car that will carry them away from their dull existence. While on the road, if they spot any police or trouble of any sort, they can pull over and disguise their vehicle as a little house. They have the requisite road-movie adventures, but these are handled with laid-back ease and delight; it's one of the great movies, like the recent The Kings of Summer, that really captures that summer mood. Microbe and Gasoline is a small movie to be sure, not as ambitious as some of Gondry's others, but all the more enjoyable for it.

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