Microbe & Gasoline is Michel Gondry’s coming-of-age story about an androgynous artsy teenager (Ange Dargent) nicknamed Microbe, because he’s slight in stature, and his devil-may-care friend (Théophile Baquet) nicknamed Gasoline, because he’s a mechanic, of sorts, and smells like the stuff. Once school’s out for the summer, without telling their parents, the two teens set off on a road trip in a house-cum-car they’ve built. Although the movie is set in the present, the boys are luddites who avoid iPhones; they are seemingly stuck in an analog era, which is of a piece with their DIY sensibility. Though more cute and twee than not, on balance Microbe & Gasoline is not too sentimental, though it is earnest and fairly innocent. Throughout the movie, the confident and headstrong Gasoline becomes a catalyst for Microbe’s introspection and character change. Though whimsical, Microbe & Gasoline is grounded and not as visually frenzied or imaginative as Gondry’s previous films.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White