Mexican filmmaker Gerardo Naranjo (“Drama/Mex”) channels 60s-era Godard in his latest, “I’m Gonna Explode,” which opens today for a week-long run at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York.
“For his third and most fully realized feature, ‘I’m Gonna Explode,’ which had its local premiere at last year’s New York Film Festival, thirtysomething Naranjo has transposed ’60s Godard, and particularly Godard’s ultra-romantic ‘Pierrot le fou’ (1965), to an upper-middle-class exurb of his hometown Guanajuato,” writes J. Hoberman in the Village Voice. “‘I’m Gonna Explode’ is the tragicomic tale of Roman and Maru, two disaffected high school kids (convincingly played by Juan Pablo de Santiago and Maria Deschamps) on the road to nowhere. Dense, funny, almost underground in its rawness (although shot in glamorous wide-screen), the movie opens with Roman’s plaintive cri de coeur, ‘fucking sons of bitches,’ and ends — as it has to — in teenage obliteration.”
“Naranjo has a succulent eye for the landscape of the world and the human body, and the film coasts breezily along on curlicuing aesthetic vibes that are rhymed to Roman and Maru’s topsy-turvy libidos and emotions, but what are these two privileged teens doing besides recreating scenes from Jean-Luc Godard’s canon?” asks Slant Magazine’s Nick Schager. “As in ‘Drama/Mex,’ the characters do much confessing, but Roman and Maru’s escapades speak less to a generation’s moral crisis than to its abject boredom.”
Time Out’s Keith Uhlich thinks that the film suffers in comparison to its influences: “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.”
Karina Longworth at Spout would seem to disagree: “‘Voy a Explotar’ (‘I’m Gonna Explode’) is the contemporary Mexican teenage ‘Pierrot le Fou.’ It knows this, and it wants you to know it, and it doesn’t care if this makes you hate it on principle. The third feature by Gerardo Naranjo (director of ‘Drama/Mex,’ co-writer and star of Azazel Jacobs’ ‘The GoodTimeskid’), it’s the rare love letter to influence that’s infused with enough personal style and sentiment to transform the stolen into something thrilling and moving.”
Anthony Kaufman profiles Naranjo in the Village Voice.
FilmCatcher has a video interview with Naranjo.
Watch the trailer for “I’m Gonna Explode” on YouTube.