by Tony Dayoub
Gerardo Naranjo's anti-establishment drama, Voy a Explotar, explores the relationship between two young non-conformists, Román (Juan Pablo de Santiago) and Maru (Maria Deschamps). Román is the son of a corrupt right-wing politician (Daniel Giménez Cacho). His mother died in a car accident that may have been caused by his father's driving after drinking. Maru is a lower-middle class student who drinks herself into blackouts. She is being raised by a single mother (Martha Claudia Moreno) who can't figure out why her daughter has grown to be so disobedient of late.
They meet when the nihilistic Román, new to Maru's school, stages a performance that consists of him standing onstage on a chair with a noose around his neck, and pretending to hang himself. Shocking the parents and schoolmates in the audience, he also manages to awaken the listless Maru from her reverie. She is the only one who claps. Soon, the two misfits forge a relationship, and make a pact to escape from their dull lives in a stolen VW bug, and head toward Mexico City. They only make it as far as Román's rooftop, where they hide in plain sight, setting up a tent, and only venturing inside the house when they need food or a shower, while they send their parents on wild chases to the countryside looking for the "missing" pair.
Naranjo (Drama/Mex) plays with the conventions of the "lovers-on-the-lam" genre, but not successfully. There are clumsy mood shifts between the romantic daydreaming of the young lovers, the political statements regarding the resurgence of the right in Mexico, and the borderline slapstick reactions of Román's father as he pretends to care about his boy's disappearance when he really only cares about how it affects his image in front of voters. The politician even tries to sneak in an airing of a soccer match, while Maru's mother frantically worries about her disappearance. Naranjo does display obvious talent, as his movie demonstrates that he is well-versed in cinema. But a film that tries to fuse echoes of Wes Anderson's lyrical Rushmore with Quentin Tarantino's True Romance is tough to buy into.
The best reason to see the Voy a Explotar is for Naranjo's brilliant casting of the two novice actors, de Santiago and Deschamps. They bring a whimsical quality that is atypical in this movie genre. Sissy Spacek had the quality in her role, as Holly, in a forerunner to this film, Badlands. Like Holly, the two lovers in Explotar don't quite grasp how horribly awry their plan to live outside of the grid can go. At least de Santiago's Román, the more idealistic of the two, doesn't. Deschamps's downturned eyes betray a darker soul. As the movie heads towards its inexorable heartbreaking finale, one gets the feeling that she is fully aware of how this will end up, but would literally rather die than live in the world she inhabits now.
Voy a Explotar/I'm Gonna Explode is playing with a short, This is Her, at the 46th New York Film Festival, at 9:00 p.m. tonight, and 6:00 p.m. tomorrow, at the Ziegfeld Theatre, 141 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019, (212) 307-1862
Photo Credit: Canana / Film Society of Lincoln Center