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Microbe & Gasoline 

Wednesday, Jul 13 2016
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Michel Gondry's Microbe & Gasoline is a teen buddy movie that's charming enough, though not up to Gondry's usual levels of inventiveness. Daniel (Ange Dargent), nicknamed Microbe due to his diminutive stature, is unhappy at both school and home, and has no real friends until he meets new student Théo (Théophile Baquet), called Gasoline due to his grease-monkey skills. Deciding to go on an adventure for the summer, they build what can be best described as a house on go-kart wheels and drive off into the French countryside. Much like Gondry's previous hanging-out-with-teenagers film, the superior The We and the I, a recurring theme is how hair impacts the teenage identity. Daniel is constantly being mistaken for a girl due to his shaggy (but not especially long) hair, and there's a troubling implication that he may one day veer into hard masculinity to compensate. Microbe & Gasoline is almost aggressively straightforward by Gondry's standards; other than a dream sequence shot in reverse and run forward, he keeps his usual penchant for magical realism at bay until the third act, as Daniel becomes aware of the way movies compress time and space. It's in those moments — along with the silliest hostage exchange ever — that the Gondry we know and love peeks through.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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