VENICE FILM REVIEW: Gerardo Naranjo’s ‘I’m Gonna Explode’

I'm gonna explode x650By Ray Bennett

VENICE – Two restless teenagers decide to run away together but do it by camping out on the roof of the boy’s rich father’s hilltop villa in Mexican filmmaker Gerardo Naranjo’s effervescent thriller “I’m Gonna Explode.”

Engaging and often funny but always with the suggestion that something could go badly and violently wrong at any moment, the film contains two wonderfully fresh performances by Maria Deschamps and Juan Pablo di Santiago (pictured) as the teenagers and an infectious score by Georges Delerue.

Bound to do well in Spanish-language territories, the film could also find receptive audiences in other markets. Its young stars, along with second-time director Naranjo, will no doubt be heard from again.

Roman (Di Santiago) is a right-wing congressman’s son who rebels against just about everything. He calls his sketch in the school revue “See You in Hell” and fakes his own hanging. He has a passion for guns and the early scenes suggest that he’s keen to use them.

Maru (Deschamps) is a schoolmate from a middle-class family, an introverted misfit who can’t understand why she doesn’t fit in and isn’t sure she wants to. Impressed by Roman’s cavalier ways, she falls for him and responds eagerly when he reveals his plan.

Roman’s father and mother meet in the house below with various aides and commence a frantic search in the belief that the boy has kidnapped Maru. Frightened of a violent outcome, the politician refuses to alert the police, especially as the teenagers send misleading messages about where they have gone. The grownup scenes, however, are played mostly for laughs.

Meanwhile, the youngsters are ensconced happily in a tent on the roof, slipping down to the house for food and supplies, including a barbecue and DVD player, when the house is empty.

Naranjo uses narration, mostly by Maru, to place the events in the past with the suggestion all along that the kids’ prank ends in misadventure so taking pleasure in the pair’s fun has an undercurrent of foreboding.

The conclusion is the least satisfying element of the film but along the way, the energy of the two young leads and the bright way Naranjo tells his story make it a winning tale.

Venue: Venice International Film Festival, Horizons; Cast: Maria Deschamps, Juan Pablo di Santiago, Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Rebecca Jones, Martha Claudia, Moreno; Director, screenwriter, producer: Gerardo Naranjo; Director of photography: Tobias Datum; Production designer: Claudio Castelli; Music: Georges Delerue, Zoot Woman, Bright Eyes; Costume designers: Annai Ramos Maza, Amanda Carcamo; Editor: Yibran Asuad; Producers: Pablo Cruz, Hunter Gray, Alain de la Mata; Production: Canana; Sales: Elle Driver; Not rated; running time, 106 minutes.

This review appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.

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