Gasoline Rainbow : Movie Review

Posted by Eddie Pasa on May 18, 2024 in / No Comments


Not Rated by the MPA (contains drug use and language – equivalent to R). Running time: 110 minutes. Released by Mubi.

Sometimes, when I look out at night, I see that light over the hills and I just wonder what it’s like to be there. I wonder if there’s anybody out there like me, thinking the same things as me, wishing for something better. ‘Cause we’ll always wonder if there’s a place somewhere for us… a place for weirdos. I wanna be out. I wanna be myself. I wanna be accepted. I wanna be loved for who I am. I don’t wanna feel like I’m different. But anywhere’s better than Wiley, right? Anywhere’s better than here. Just gotta be brave enough to get to the other side.
— Makai Garza

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Mubi, Gasoline RainbowThis narration presages and prologues the late-night escape of five high school graduates (or near-graduates), piling into a van and heading out of their too-small-to-even-have-a-proper-stoplight Oregon town. 513 miles away to the west lies the coast, and they’re heading to it for the first time in their lives. And that’s as much story contained in Gasoline Rainbow, a movie about nothing and everything.

I love these movies, straight-up and unapologetically. There are no agendas, no exaggerated dramatics, no forced dialogue or feeling; it’s a snapshot of what is, and it’s interesting enough to hold my (admittedly short) attention. Sibling writers/directors Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross take their same “scripted documentary” approach that made their 2020 film Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets so memorable and endearing. While Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets had some doubt regarding it being a work of fiction or a real documentary, there are no such ambiguities here, as the Ross brothers are credited as writers, in addition to editing and numerous other behind-the-camera responsibilities.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Mubi, Gasoline RainbowTheir tactics: fill the camera image with easily-attachable immediacy and watch what happens. Introducing us to this group of with their own backgrounds and raisons d’etre by showing us their school ID cards (everyone goes by their real names) seats us right away with the familiarity of the hopefulness and naïveté of youth. We know they don’t know everything about how the world works; although some of them have been forced to grow up sooner than others due to family circumstances, they still carry the un-jaded spirit of an unknown future.

Originally planning on just taking a road trip to the coast in Nichole Dukes’ will-it-or-won’t-it-start van, this fivesome soon hears about something called “The Party at the End of the World” that’s going on at the coast. So begins a journey that sees them lose their van, join hoboes hopping a train, and sleep rough. But all the while, they’re making connections beyond their limited scopes. Each person they meet gives them a different perspective, a new way to view the world; even during a pool match at a diner, Nathaly Garcia finds a new friend who helps her through the grief of losing her father to deportation.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Mubi, Gasoline RainbowLike most road trip movies, it’s not so much about the destination as it is the time spent getting there. The Ross brothers do the pointing and shooting, but it’s the totally game cast that sparks the movie to life by being genuine. We know kids like these – hell, we even used to be kids like these – and watching them brings back the joy of having the whole world ahead of you. Throughout, we start to learn the little things that make these kids tick, such as Tony Aburto’s uncertainty about his future, Micah Bunch’s forced maturity as caretaker of his siblings, and Makai’s isolation as the town’s only Black kid. Not that we get to deal with a lot of that to its resolution, but each character is colored in identifiable shades, recalling times in our own lives where we were conflicted about our place in the world.

When they get to a place where they all of a sudden look like everyone else, it’s like they’ve arrived, in every sense of the word – personally, emotionally, being accepted, and being a part of something larger. There’s a feeling that starts as inklings in the way these five accept and love each other, and it only grows the further out they go. Each new connection furthers this feeling of acceptance and love, until the emotional denouement brings everything full circle to just themselves. They may be well out of their depth and away from home, but over the course of their journey, they learn that the world is just as weird as they are. Obviously, the circumstances are controlled and the participants are kept safe, thus avoiding any danger or negative outcomes (except for the loss of Nichole’s van).

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Mubi, Gasoline RainbowBut that’s the point. We want to see these kids happy, loved, and accepted. They’re just normal kids in a country where you hear about school shootings and bullying on the regular. Coming from a town as small as theirs, they’re more than likely not going to have things like that happening, but it’s killing them not to be able to widen their horizons and viewpoints. Gasoline Rainbow shows five kids bucking the expectation to stay small-town, wanting more and venturing beyond their comfort zone to find it. The movie works like looking at a collection of a vacation photos, but it’s what happens between the photos where we find solace in chaos. And when the film wraps up, your heart sings with the kids, triumphant in that teenage way when you’ve done something epic and you’ve lived to tell the tale.

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Eddie Pasa

Eddie is a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Since starting in 2010 at The Rogers Revue, Eddie has written for Reel Film News (now defunct), co-founded DC Filmdom, and writes occasionally for Gunaxin. When not reviewing movies, he's spending time with his wife and children, repeat-viewing favorites on 4k or Blu-Ray, working for rebranding agency Mekanic, or playing acoustic shows and DJing across the DC/MD/VA area. Special thanks go to Jenn Carlson, Moira and Ari Pasa, Viki Nova at City Dock Digital in Annapolis, Mike Parsons, Philip Van Der Vossen, and Dean Rogers.

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