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JapanFocus
I'm Going to Explode
Directed by Gerardo Naranjo (2008)
Howard Schumann (howard16)     Print Article 
Published 2010-02-10 10:03 (KST)   
Howard Schumann rates "I'm Going to Explode" an A-.  <Editor's Note>
Though it appears doubtful that J.D. Salinger's classic paean to teen-age rebelliousness, Catcher in the Rye, will ever be filmed, Mexican director Gerardo Naranjo's I'm Going to Explode ("Voy a Explotar") provides a kindred spirit in teenage Roman, an updated cinematic expression of Holden Caulfield's search for authenticity (though one with decidedly more reckless abandon).

Naranjo, who studied film at the American Film Institute with another up-and-coming young director, Azazel Jacobs ("Momma's Man"), owes a big debt of gratitude to the French New Wave, yet his "I'm Going to Explode" stands on its own as an involving tale of two lovers on the run, never feeling derivative or redundant.

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Produced by actors Gabriel Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna from "Y Tu Mama Tambien", "I'm Going to Explode" rises above its youthful flaws with energy, dark humor, and personal style, and an expressive spontaneity that makes it a rich and deeply moving experience. If Holden had a partner, she might have resembled 15-year-old Maru (Maria Deschamps), a troubled outsider with a rebellious spirit. Bored and feeling very much alone at her suburban prep school in Guanajuato, Maru is an outsider who empties her soul each day into her diary, aching for someone who understands her longings. Her world comes alive, however, when she meets Roman (Juan Pablo de Santiago), the disaffected son of a well-to-do, right-wing politician.

A bright, impulsive, emotional, and unpredictable young man, Roman seems to delight in seeking his father's (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) attention by getting kicked out of every school he is enrolled in. Now in the same school with Maru, they meet at a talent show in which Roman pretends to commit suicide by hanging and Maru feels an immediate camaraderie. She writes to a friend that "He exists, but I also made him up," and says that "the best part is that he's angry." Roman has similar feelings for Maru and it does not take long for the two free spirits to plan a runaway from a world of which they can make little sense. Roman, in melodramatic fashion, pretends to be abducting Maru while flashing one of his adored guns -- but the reality is less exciting.

Although they both want their parents to think they are far away, they are actually hiding out in a tent on the roof of his father's house, sneaking downstairs to corral the necessities of life when his dad, Maru's mother, and sister (who have made themselves part of the rescue team), are not at home. Fortified with plenty of wine and rock music which they listen to with dual headphones, they are clearly having fun at the expense of their self-involved, but legitimately frightened parents who are thrown off the trail by hysterical phone calls from Roman, replete with misinformation. In a startlingly insightful sequence, Maru expresses her conflicts about having sex with Roman, fearing that she will lose her power over him and be taken for granted if she "puts out" (why most Hollywood teens never think about that is a mystery).

Like most adolescents, one minute they express powerful emotion and seem grown up, the next minute they are squabbling or not talking because of inconsequential jolts to their ego. When Roman and Maru do have sex, it is very erotic because they are at first so hesitant and tentative, perhaps the way we all were the first time. Ultimately, they steal a car with the idea of going to Mexico City but, as in real-life, it does not always work out according to plans.

Surviving an unnecessarily melodramatic and predictable ending, "I'm Going to Explode" is a film of sensual delight and pure exhilaration and Deschamps' performance as the more mature protagonist keeps the film from descending into juvenile hi-jinks.
This article has not appeared in any other news medium but has been submitted to Cinescene (www.cinescene.com).
©2010 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Howard Schumann

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