I'm Gonna Explode

Time Out New York Project: Issue #723, August 6-12, 2009


Dir. Gerardo Naranjo. 2008. N/R. 106mins. In Spanish, with subtitles. Juan Pablo de Santiago, Maria Deschamps, Daniel Giménez Cacho.

It’s all but impossible to find a piece on I’m Gonna Explode that doesn’t mention its indebtedness to Jean-Luc Godard’s lovers-on-the-lam masterpiece, Pierrot le fou. The comparison is superficially apt. Just substitute two charismatic 15-year-old delinquents, Roman (De Santiago) and Maru (Deschamps), for Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina, move the location from France to Mexico, tie it in (quite facilely, in this case) to the current political situation and voilâ…Pierrot el loco.

Yet the anything-goes instability of the film’s characters—who meet dourly cute after Roman performs a mock suicide at their prep school—is more in the schizoid black-comic vein of Polish director Andrzej Zulawski. Writer-director Gerardo Naranjo makes this latter homage explicit by repeating the Georges Delerue “Love Theme” from Zulawski’s The Most Important Thing Is to Love (1975) ad nauseam as the adolescent lovebirds race heedlessly to a tragic end.

It’s an appropriation that casts an unfortunately harsh light. Naranjo isn’t reworking Delerue’s, Zulawski’s and Godard’s efforts so much as piggybacking on them, hoping the feelings and sensations provided by their work will emerge simply via acknowledgment. The title of the film promises something revolutionary, but all we get, aesthetically and thematically, are second-gen hand-me-downs.—Keith Uhlich