A Girl and a Gun 


I'm Gonna Explode
Directed by Gerardo Naranjo

I'm Gonna Explode takes as a jumping-off point Godard's girl-and-a-gun dictum, but just to be safe writer-director Gerardo Naranjo also throws in many facsimiles of Pierrot le fou's flights of dangerous fancy (doomed love, brazen car theft, color-coded full-frame diary entries) and a healthy dose of Georges Delerue on the soundtrack. Though the film is shamelessly derivative, it's thankfully not as if Naranjo has forgotten which New Wave he belongs to. Taking two fresh-faced, wild-haired Mexican Bright Eyes fans as his heedless lovers on the run, Naranjo generates a youthful charge of his own.

Rambunctious classmates Roman (Juan Pablo de Santiago) and Maru (Maria Deschamps) begin their flight by skipping school and camping out in a tent on the roof of Roman's father's well-appointed house, where they lounge about in improvised pajamas and are even able to eavesdrop on their fretting parents down below. When the coast is clear, they occasionally descend to retrieve necessary items (food, booze, coffee maker) from inside the house. There is an anything-goes couch-fort ethos in these rooftop scenes that flirts with preciousness but thankfully never succumbs to it. The film's frankness about the emotional and physical flux of Roman and Maru's relationship keeps it grounded.

I'm Gonna Explode is not without glaring problems. The stakes for Roman and Maru are never quite clear until too late in the game, when the film rushes clumsily into the latter part of its comic-tragic equation, and making Roman's father a greasy right-wing politician seems a cheap way of trying to give the son's impulsive rebellion a political dimension. But Naranjo's film is filled with so many beautifully textured moments that these offenses are largely forgivable. Cinematographer Tobias Datum, who also shot Naranjo's previous feature, Drama/Mex, captures impossibly lush greens as Roman and Maru make their way to Mexico City, and his hovering, twitching camera is well suited to examining the wooziness of first love. Naranjo seems to be in a feverish state himself working through (not quite plundering) some of his early cinematic loves, most notably Godard. The result is wildly uneven but nonetheless intoxicating.

August 12-18 at the Walter Reade Theater


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