This film went into cinemas so quick I didn’t even hear about it so it came to me as a great surprise when I found out Michel Gondry had a new feature out. Gondry is more recent years after some problematic Hollywood productions has went back to France and made quite possibly his masterpiece with Mood Indigo and now has made this quirky borderline kids film. Gondry is still at work at his long fabled adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Ubik and if he every gets it’s made it should be magnificent.
The film doesn’t have the normal visual splendour Gondry exhibited in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or The Science of Sleep. It’s much more naturalistic but still have a fantastical quality due to the plot being about two teenage boys who decide to build a car out of junk and to take a road trip round France. They disguise it as a house so they won’t be stopped by the authorities because they couldn’t register their vehicle. The two boys are Daniel aka. Microbe (Ange Dargent) who is often mistaken as a girl and the new kid Theo aka. Gasoline (Theophile Baquet) and because of their outsider status within the school they bond.
The film has the feel of some of Truffaut’s films about childhood especially Pocket Money and The 400 Blows. It also have the charming quirkiness of Zazie in the Metro by Louis Malle. Both of the young performances have real chemistry together and hopefully both of them end up having a career because they extremely charismatic. Audrey Tautou gives a nice supporting role as Microbe’s mother but she is always a pleasure to watch on-screen.
Microbe & Gasoline may have not set the world on fire but it’s a nice coming of age film from one of the most inventive directors working today. It’s believable but is “quirky” enough to satisfy Gondry fans but never falls into being irksome which so many self-proclaimed “quirky” films, Gondry and Wes Anderson are two directors who pull this balance off when many others fail miserably. Check out because you could be watching something much less charming or inventive. The disc is fairly barebones but it does has a making of feature.