“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
– C.S. Lewis
Daniel and Theo (Ange Dargent and Theophile Baquet) are both misfits at their school.
Nicknamed Microbe & Gasoline – one for his short stature and youthful appearance and the other with hands always dirty with engine oil — the boys become friends and decide to run away from the daily routine by embarking on a tour of France with a curious vehicle they have built themselves out of a bed frame, tires and a lawnmower motor — all picked up at the junkyard.
As such, the bizarre self-built vehicle is banned from using the roads, so the boys create an intriguing camouflage.
Microbe & Gasoline is first and foremost a Coming-of-Age film, although some similarities with other films in the genre (The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, Motorama, North Sea Is Dead Sea) could categorize it as a road-film as well. As the two boys’ adventure turns out to be one of self-discovery, the road can be considered a metaphor for adolescence. With healthy doses of nostalgia, humor, teenage awkwardness, and budding sexuality – this French film is an atypical yet wholesome portrayal of the rite-of-passage we all go through.
The original storyline of Microbe & Gasoline (much like Ursula Meier`s 2009 masterpiece Home) is refreshingly imaginative. It is simple and easy to follow, but it focuses on some big themes – individuality, friendship, and Coming-of-Age.
Both of the title protagonists are newcomers to the cinema. Ange Dargent and Theophile Baquet have undeniable chemistry and deliver natural performances resulting in dynamic characters. Daniel is an introvert, while Theo is an extrovert, which results in intriguing interactions. Each character seems to possess a quality that completes the other. Characterization in this film is done predominantly via the conversations between the two boys. This dialogue is filled with life hacks and pearls of wisdom regardless of the topic discussed (life, uniqueness of people, girls, love, or even masturbation).
It is easy to identify with either Daniel or Theo as we have all experienced one or many of their tribulations and adventures on the way to adulthood. It’s a process unavoidably accompanied by a sense of tender melancholy as sometimes in life, we lose more than our innocence. That justifies the film’s touching finale, which puts a realistic yet harsh ending to one great adventure.
Microbe & Gasoline Trailer