Sunday, September 30, 2012

Teenage Wasteland: "I'm Gonna Explode" (2009)

You know, the teen angst story has been done to death. Come on, "Romeo and Juliet" is centuries old. So when yet another tale of alienated youth comes out, the adult in me rolls his eyes...and hopes for a topless scene.

Roman (Juan Pablo Hernandez) is the son of a right-wing congressman who consistently causes his father (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) and step-mother headaches. Roman is kicked out of another school after his diary (describing a shooting that is dramatized in the film) is found, and he is sent to a school that the introverted Maru (Maria Deschamps) attends.

Maru lives with her mother and younger sister, and also feels left out of the world and chronically misunderstood. Roman and Maru tenuously hook up, and escape from the school, taking refuge on Roman's father's roof, as the parents inside worry (kind of). Roman's father has been down this path before, enabling his son. Maru's mother is in a panic. Roman and Maru send their parents on wild goose chases, and break into the home to steal food until they decide to leave. They should have stayed on the roof, as things quickly go down hill.

If Larry Clark went to Mexico, you would have "I'm Gonna Explode." And I do mean that the film irritates as much as a Clark film does. While Maru is very easy on the eyes (and I thankfully found my topless scenes), Roman is a maladjusted jerk. He plays with loaded guns like toys, and is every bit the spoiled son of a politician. Maru seems deeper, more complicated, but it's hard to feel sympathy for someone who attaches herself to such a basket case only to be different. The adults in this film are all stupid, but the film maker never succeeds with this part of his screenplay. Instead of cheering on the teens in the face of such bad parenting, you just come to hate everyone onscreen, and patiently wait for the inevitably violent finale.

Naranjo's camera is constantly on the move, as if his confidence in his screenplay was lacking. The film has a bleached-out look to it, and the musical score is a mish-mash of rhythmic stylings, depending on the teens' moods. The film has been compared to New Wave French films, but I didn't see the similarities. Naranjo's biggest misstep is the dramatized shooting at the beginning of the film. Shot from Roman's point of view, it is so shocking, the rest of the film cannot possibly live up to it.

Watching this film is like watching one of those terrible reality shows, where the cast members talk about how dangerous they are, and how hateful they can be. Naranjo follows through with some explosive behavior, but by that point, I thought a good spanking would have been in order instead. "I'm Gonna Explode" turns out to be an empty threat. (* *) out of five stars.