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I’m Gonna Explode

Posted by martinteller on April 9, 2013

Román (Juan Pablo de Santiago) is a problem teenager.  His mother in died a car crash.  His father (Daniel Giménez Cacho) is a right-wing politician who married his own secretary, and has little interest in his son.  Román lashes out with rebellious behavior, is kicked out of school after school, and he harbors homicidal fantasies.  At his latest school, he stages a mock suicide for the talent show.  This catches the attention of young Maru (Maria Deschamps), who latches on to him, considering him a kindred misfit.  The two run away… to the roof of Román’s house.

At least half of the reviews I peeked at mentioned how much this movie plays homage to/steals from Pierrot le fou.  To be honest, I don’t remember that movie well enough and might not have made the connection myself, but there is a Godardian New Waviness to it.  The film is less concerned with moving a plot forward — although it manages to do so — than observing these two would-be rebels, their antics, and their romantic fumblings.  The first half hour has a kinetic energy, with rapid cutting, close-ups of Maru’s journal, fantasy sequences and possible alternate scenarios.  There are certainly a number of filmic references (poster of Buster Keaton, Román’s fake suicide more than a little reminiscent of Harold and Maude, et cetera).

It settles down in a fashion during the middle section, which was my favorite part.  As Román and Maru enjoy their rooftop freedom, making excursions into the house for supplies when no one’s around, we get a fine portrayal of misguided adolescent rebellion.  They don’t know what to do with themselves, or even really what they’re running from, but they bask in what they believe to be a bold lifestyle.  Maru fends off Román’s sexual advances, trying to maintain some control of the relationship, but her romantic ideals make her cave.  She’s put him up on a pedestal, and is blinded by youthful passion.

Unfortunately, the movie flounders in the third act.  As much as the two young lovers don’t know what to do with themselves, writer/director Gerardo Naranjo doesn’t seem to know what to do with them either.  It eventually devolves into some rather overblown melodrama, taking it places it doesn’t need to go, nor does it feel right to.

Still, it’s worth watching for the first hour at least, especially for Deschamps’s nuanced performance.  The film is more from her point of view than Román’s, and Santiago’s role ultimately feels rather thin.  But Deschamps is terrific… not too pouty or too cutesy or too angry.  Just a regular girl trying to figure out things out in the heat of raging hormones and the thrill of rebellion.  Rating: Good (71)


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