3 items from 2015
In his most satisfying film since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Gondry crafts an optimistic adolescent adventure from the mess of real life
It’s hard to know what we’ll end up calling this phase of Michel Gondry’s career, but it’s certainly been unpredictable. He’s made four non-Hollywood movies since 2011’s big budget disappointment The Green Hornet, the unlikely superhero entry starring Seth Rogen. There was a guerrilla-style experiment with non-actors on a New York City bus (The We and the I), an undiluted hit of love-drenched visual whimsy (Mood Indigo) and a hand-drawn animated rap session between himself and Noam Chomsky (Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?). While each were innovative, these were peculiar and particular films. With the French-language Microbe and Gasoline, Gondry has made his most satisfying movie since his 2004 masterpiece Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Consider it an anti-Superbad. »
- Jordan Hoffman
If Michel Gondry’s movies were books, they’d come with hand-stitched covers, fold-out pop-ups and a progression of flipbook-style doodles in the bottom corner of every page. No other working director brings quite the same lo-fi, do-it-yourself quality to his filmmaking, and yet, Gondry’s inventive charm has often proven to be his own worst enemy, overtaking and cutesifying stories that might play better without all the confetti and curlicues. With “Microbe and Gasoline,” the French writer-director has wisely restrained his usual flourishes, allowing the two teenage leads in his relatively calm summer-vacation coming-of-age comedy to assume center stage, imbuing them with creative agency, rather than forcing them to compete with the film’s own style. What emerges is an admittedly small, but wonderfully sincere portrait of two adolescent outsiders determined to pave their own way in the world.
Quietly released in France after being slighted by the festival circuit, »
- Peter Debruge
Microbe et Gasoil
Though his last feature, 2013’s zany and effervescent Mood Indigo, had a tortured flight to the box office, the steadily busy Michel Gondry also released a documentary, Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?. Now, he’s reteaming with his Indigo star Audrey Tautou to headline a cast of newcomers with a roadtrip film that recounts the wild adventures of two teenagers who are somewhat marginalised: the tiny “Microbe” and the inventive “Gasoil”. As the summer holidays get ever nearer, the two friends have no intention of spending the two months with their families. So with the help of a lawnmower engine and various planks of wood, they decide to build their own “car” and set off on an adventurous road trip around France.
Cast: Audrey Tautou and a cast of first-time children actors.
- Nicholas Bell
3 items from 2015
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