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ReFocus: The Films of Michel Gondry$
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Marcelline Block and Jennifer Kirby

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474456012

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474456012.001.0001

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On the Road to Adulthood: Michel Gondry’s Microbe & Gasoline and the French Road Movie

On the Road to Adulthood: Michel Gondry’s Microbe & Gasoline and the French Road Movie

(p.102) Chapter 6 On the Road to Adulthood: Michel Gondry’s Microbe & Gasoline and the French Road Movie
ReFocus: The Films of Michel Gondry

Marcelline Block

Jennifer Kirby

Edinburgh University Press

In their chapter, Marcelline Block and Jennifer Kirby consider cinematic lineage and influence. This chapter argues that Gondry’s most recent feature, Microbe & Gasoline, a picaresque narrative, draws from the conventions of the road movie through its focus on social outsiders, light-hearted depiction of run-ins with the police, and emphasis on male bonding. This film also provides commentary on the notion and definition of “home” in France. Microbe & Gasoline, which follows two teenage boys taking a 250-mile-long journey through France in a makeshift house on wheels, links a coming-of-age narrative to a growing awareness of the complexities and divisions within France. In this film, Gondry depicts his trademark childhood play and whimsy alongside a sobering adult realization of injustices in the world. Representing yet another form of border crossing, the film blends conventions from the American road movie with the French road movie’s potential for what Gott calls “elaborating flexible, transnational and multicultural alternatives to a monolithic version of France.” It serves to reinforce Gondry’s status as an auteur whose work is frequently transnational in character, recalling Hill’s claim that Gondry is the spiritual heir to Jean Cocteau and Georges Méliès, as well as Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg.

Keywords:   Michel Gondry, Microbe & Gasoline, The American Road Movie, The French Road Movie, Coming-of-age narrative, Transnational, Transcultural, Multicultural, Picaresque, Play and Whimsy

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