Directors’ Showcase / UK premiere

I’m Going to Explode (Voy a Explotar)

  • Gerardo Naranjo /
  • Mexico /
  • 2008 /
  • 103 mins

Juan Pablo de Santiago, Maria Deschamps, Daniel Gimenez Cacho

Runaways in love: a stylish, funny and intense feature from Mexico.

The title is apt: Mexican Gerardo Naranjo’s superb tale of teenage love simmers with pent-up energy, and draws much of its compelling immediacy from the complex combination of generational, sexual and political tensions underneath its consummately stylish surface. The focus is on Román and Maru. Expelled from his exclusive seminary for fantasising about shooting two of his teaching staff, teenager Román (Juan Pablo de Santiago), son of an affluent congressmen, is sent to the local public school. There, he introduces himself to his fellow students by pretending to commit suicide in assembly. Watching this mock hanging is Maru (Maria Deschamps), and when these two troubled, disaffected teens meet – in detention, naturally – they are immediately smitten with one another. The two flee, leading their families to think the pistol-obsessed Román has kidnapped Maru. Slipping between reality and fantasy, the present and the the past, film and photography, the opening moments of Naranjo’s movie are a heady, virtuoso blur that brilliantly evoke the dreamy intensity of its adolescent heroes. Once Román and Maru have run away, the film pulls off an assured change of pace and tone. Unbeknownst to his father, Román camps out on the roof-top of his family home, extemporising the kind of domestic idyll he and Maru find so hard to achieve in outside life. With remarkable performances from his young leads, Naranjo charts their developing relationship with deft and affecting delicacy. Edged with an Oedipal frisson, the movie explores Román’s fractious relationship with his widower father; but showing welcome – and perhaps uncommon – even-handedness towards his young female lead, it’s as much to the unspoken sorrows of Maru (a beautifully nuanced Deschamps) that Naranjo is drawn as to the wild-boy antics of Román. Further proof of the vitality of Mexican film this past decade, I’m Going to Explode fizzes with stylistic brio and cinematic smarts: Tobias Datum’s floaty, colour-bleached camerawork offers some of the best visuals this side of Wong Kar-wai and Chris Doyle. The mood of on-the-lam amour might owe something to Gun Crazy and Pierrot le Fou (via the intoxicating romanticism of the Smiths, whose poster adorns Román and Maru’s tent), but it’s a sign of Naranjo’s achievement that this film can more than hold its own alongside such classics.

2009 Archive

Image from I’m Going to Explode

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