When I saw Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna’s names as producers on at the front of Gerardo Naranjo’s I’m Going to Explode I immediately got a sense of what might be in store. Young love, beautiful outcasts and a sun bleached road trip. I’m not sure what that says about the pair or the definitive themes in Mexican Cinema itself which has been blooming since the late nineties; But it sure is intriguing that a flavor and a style of film making has become so apparent, garnering all the respect it deserves, in such a short space of time.
I’m Gonna Explode introduces us to Maru and Roman, social out casts in their schools, both in their own special way. Maru is bored with her world and her friends and holds a simple hatred and complacency towards everything. Roman’s disposition is one more tinged with violence than boredom. He writes and fantasises about killing his teachers and himself and, when a gun is found in his dorm room desk, he is forced to move schools.
It’s only when Roman performs a mock hanging at a talent night that he wins the heart of Maru and before you know it, the pair have shot up the school and gone on the run. Oddly the pair decide not to go too far thinking that the safest place to be would be one that Roman’s preoccupied politician Father and Maru’s Mother would never think to look…
It’s an enjoyable introduction to the pair and if not for the great performances that Naranjo gets from newcomers Juan Pablo de Santiago and Maria Deschamps one which could have fallen short. They work well together, testing each others patience and working one another out while in hiding, biting at each other and having fun in equal measure; For better or worse and in effect, a constantly up and down tone is inflicted on the audience while we wait for the pair to formulate a plan.
The Jean-Luc Godard influences in the editing and voice over are more than apparent and the whole film borrows, what some might call shamelessly and some lovingly from the french master’s Pierrot Le Fou especially. The colours of the pairs hideaway tent and Maru’s Polka dot pajamas doing more than enough to evoke the surreal 1965 movie.
Though I’m Gonna Explode suffers from its outset in as much as it really is impossible to have an audience believing that it will all end well when you’re dealing with young lovers on the run. Weirdly, the romanticism of the tragedy in the genre is almost written in stone. We somehow know we are in store for a massive comedown once all the railing against society is over.
That being said though, the film does have staying power. A sharp shift in mood in the final 20 minutes could have been a bit of a mistake but it makes for a strangely lasting resonance after the credits have rolled. Sadly not enough to put this textured and spiky little film up there with the very best of the Mexican New Wave.