Microbe & Gasoline (Microbe et Gasoil)

Microbe&Gasoline_FINAL-630-thumb-630xauto-61009Sounds like a science flick, but it’s actually a sweet little French coming-of-age film. Theo meets Daniel when he transfers into his school, and as two outcasts often do in movies, they immediately hit it off. Théo (Théophile Baquet) is into tinkering around with motors and has a distinct odor, hence the kids dub him Gasoline, and Daniel (Ange Dargent) is pretty small for his age and known as Microbe. Gasoline is tougher and takes shy Microbe under his wing, helping him meet the girl of his dreams and even exhibit his drawings in a gallery. But when summer comes around, they hatch a plan to get away from their dysfunctional families and adventure ensues.

A road trip is what they need, and to that end they build a car, since Microbe is great with engines. But they can’t get the required permits, so undeterred, they build a small house on wheels with an ingenious design that transforms to look just like a stationary garden shed, just in case they are seen by a policeman. And off they go. Of course things don’t always go as they should. They have to change their itinerary when the hills test their design. They meet a couple who wants them to make up for the kids that have flown the coop. microbe7There are run-ins with a gang and a seriously bad haircut. But mostly it’s the usual road movie coming-of-age stuff. Bonding. Trust issues. Losing stuff, but learning lessons.

I have to admit that I expected a different take from a Michel Gondry film. His last movie Mood Indigo was full of whimsy and magic. And he became well-know for his inventive Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, so I though this would be less straight forward. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. Both of the kids are very good and apparently the film was somewhat autobiographical for Gondry and it has that sweet sense of nostalgia about it. I recommend it for foreign film lovers who don’t want anything too taxing.

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