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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.69%
Worth A Look46.15%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap46.15%

2 reviews, 1 rating

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by Chris Parry

"Thelma and Louise in Italy with teenage lesbians – Bravo!"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2003 SEATTLE FILM FESTIVAL: I really, really REALLY had a lot of fun watching this film. Crammed into a day full of festival flicks in multiple locations, that I even showed up to the film was more a case of happenstance than anything else, but from the first few minutes it had me. When you think of Italian films, you generally think of sweeping historical pieces that showcase the beauty of the region – not modern day stories about the shallowness of our lives that could stand up alongside the best of the west. Gasoline, or ‘Benzina’ in its Italian form, is not a masterpiece by any stretch, but it’s sure as hell better than 90% of the American fare I’ve seen in the last ten years.

Lenni (Maya Sansa) is a teenager working at a gas station owned by her lover, Stella (Regina Orioli). Life’s pretty good; a bit slow but good. Until Lenni’s mom (Mariella Valentini) shows up and finds out her daughter likes the beav’. The two engage in a tussle and pretty soon Stella’s involved, punching mom in the face to stop her from beating on Lenni. The ensuing fall kills Lenni’s mom and thus begins the great adventure of the evening – how to dispose of the body while a carload of homophobes chase them and the cops lurk around every corner.

Which in itself would be an interesting film, but nothing special. Where Gasoline steps up a notch is in the details – the chemistry between the leads, the omnipresent ghost of Lenni’s mom who keeps issuing orders and insults from the grave, the nastiness of the guys out to get Lenni and Stella, both for their money and out of pure hatred. Gasoline is beautifully shot, but not in the conventional Italian cinema sense. This is a film filled with malls and gas stations, junkyards and parking lots, not rococo-style architecture and Florentine glamour.

Gasoline anchors itself in a decent amount of fantasy, but it also has a firm foothold in reality. Stella is a hard-nosed girl, Lenni is a messed up teen. Neither of them is gorgeous and neither of them is perfect; in fact they’re as dysfunctional as any other random teenage romance you’d see in the street. And as time rolls on they grow increasingly more imperfect, driven by a bad situation to become what they were once trying to escape.

For many reasons this film reminded me a lot of Doug Liman's Go. Both films feature strong female leads dealing with not so strong female leads, situations that go from bad to worse and feature finales that might not be the strongest point of the film... And both films are low budget gems that should be seen by a wide audience.

As a dark thriller, Gasoline works. As a dark drama, Gasoline works. As a dark romance, Gasoline works. As an alternative to the sugary sweet teeth-rotting Hollywood pap we’re normally fed, it more than works. Style, realism, eroticism, action – and all on a low budget. If what director Monica Lisa Stambrini has created here is any indication, she has a very big future.

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originally posted: 06/03/03 07:48:41
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/28/06 Leona This movie was really well done. I loved it! 5 stars
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  02-Jul-2003 (NR)



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