Entertainment » Movies

Microbe And Gasoline

by Greg Vellante
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Jul 22, 2016
'Microbe and Gasoline'
'Microbe and Gasoline'  

"If you're my friend, you must be an independent spirit," says Theo to Daniel in French filmmaker Michel Gondry's delightful new film, "Microbe and Gasoline." It's a quote that sticks when contemplating the joyous showcase of friendship on display in the film, a work of cinematic insight bursting with equal sums of humor, surrealism, youthful exuberance and growing pains.

Daniel and Theo are certainly both independent spirits, seeming to be transcendently mature compared to their contemporaries while still struggling with the day-to-day snares of existence. Daniel is a "14-and-a-half" year-old squirt, nicknamed "Microbe" by his peers for his stature -- at times he's even confused for a girl, with his baby face and lengthy locks. Struggling with insomnia, anxiety and the occasional existential crisis, Daniel moves through daily routines occupied by pushy bullies, depressed parents and indifferent siblings, afflictions remedied primarily by his talent and passion for drawing portraits.

And then comes Theo, the new kid at school, who is nicknamed "Gasoline" immediately for the funny smell coming off of his jacket (he gets up early to help his father with mechanics). Daniel sees through the immediate labeling of the others, immediately befriending Theo, drawn to his confidence and infectious personality. Theo stands tall compared to Daniel, inches added by his bushy mop top, but the pair come together like peculiar puzzle pieces destined for one another's company.

Inseparable and craving adventure, the duo proceeds to build a small home on wheels, which is an ingenious device of even more ingenious production design. They cruise away from their homes after lying to their parents, and from here we embark on the standard road trip comedy. We make various stops, encountering various characters, all the while learning more about the world, a little bit about ourselves and a great deal about what makes our protagonists tick.

Throughout, Gondry fills the film with charming and discerning moments, catchy imagery and a meticulously rhythmic pace that rolls with the wheels of Theo and Daniel's escapist device. He captures youth, especially boyish adolescence, in a way that I haven't seen since Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" a couple years ago. There are singular moments -- like waiting in line at the beginning of the school year, making awkward eye contact with peers, studying how people have changed -- that transported me back to my youth like a cinematic catapult.

It's hardly a perfect film, and far from Gondry's best, but it pleasures to no end. And sometimes, especially for a film that does it so well, that's enough.

Microbe and Gasoline

In a dystopian society, single people must find a mate within 45 days or be transformed into an animal of their choice.


Runtime :: 104 mins
Release Date :: Jul 08, 2015
Language :: Silent
Country :: France


Daniel :: Ange Dargent
Théo :: Théophile Baquet
Laura :: Diane Besnier
Marie-Thérèse :: Audrey Tautou
Steve :: Vincent Lamoureux
Agathe :: Agathe Peigney
Oscar :: Douglas Brosset
Kevin :: Charles Raymond
Simon :: Ferdinand Roux-Balme
Romain :: Marc Delarue


Director :: Michel Gondry
Screenwriter :: Michel Gondry
Producer :: Georges Bermann
Cinematographer :: Laurent Brunet
Film Editor :: Elise Fievet
Original Music :: Jean-Claude Vannier
Production Design :: Stephane Rozenbaum
Costume Designer :: Florence Fontaine
Casting :: Leila Fournier
Casting :: Sarah Tepper

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