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Benzina (2001)

Gasoline

a very well-acted piece of indie-cinema

Directed by:

Monica Stambrini

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 90 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

Country: Italy

Mothers, eh? Who’d have one? It has to be said, though, that few of us have mums who’ll go quite as far in their nagging as the mama in ‘Benzina’ (Italian for ‘gasoline’), whose whinging is so incessant that it carries on even after she’s snuffed it. Then again, if I had a daughter whose lesbian lover clobbered me to death, I probably wouldn’t be too chuffed about it either.

The trouble starts when mumsie (Mariella Valentini) catches nerdy daughter Lenni (Regina Orioli) snogging brunette boss Stella (Maya Sansa) in the middle of the petrol station where the pair of them work. A scuffle breaks out, Stella gets a tad over-enthusiastic with the fisticuffs, and mama bleeds to death all over the lino. Terrified of heading for the clink, and bolstered by the convenient wad of cash mother-dearest was carrying around with her (‘at least 20 million lire’ – so probably about 30p then), Lenni and Stella go on the run.

Before you can say ‘Dolmio’, the pair of them are haring across the country with the dead parent stuffed in the boot. The stumbling block is, they upset a trio of wayward adolescents of hard-to-place age along the way, and what was meant to be a simple escape turns into a chase. Meanwhile, Lenni’s having to put up with the ghost of her mum moaning in her ear ‘ole. And she thought the nagging was bad when the old dear was alive…

This is a very well-acted piece of indie-cinema, with some ultra-stylish direction from American-born Monica Stambrini. Sansa, in particular, oozes confidence on-screen and creates a fascinating character to watch. Unfortunately, it also suffers badly from a crippling lack of decent narrative, and is so full of contrivances that any connection between it and the realms of believability are completely lost.

In Italian, with English subtitles

It's Got: The prop department finding some nice use for chicken soup in an early puke scene.

It Needs: A vastly improved storyline to bring the best out of the cast and director.

Alternatives:

Bound, Boys Don't Cry, Heavenly Creatures, Thelma & Louise

Summary

Watchable, but largely bleak and unrewarding, relying far too heavily on blatantly far-fetched plot-turns.

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