I’m a sucker for movies that make me feel absolutely terrible. I’ve watched Funny Games at least four times within the last 12 months, and I think about Michael Rooker in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer more than anyone probably should. Upon its conclusion, THE GASOLINE THIEVES left me with nothing but this terrible sinking feeling – And I love it so much for that.
On the surface, THE GASOLINE THIEVES comes across as a commentary on the hardships faced by the people of Mexico at the mercy of a corrupt government. Due to the increasingly soaring gas prices, black market resale becomes commonplace and so, too, does ignoring those horrifically executed solely because they were unfortunate enough to be caught in the criminal crossfire. Though undeniably distressing witnessing adults kill each other ruthlessly for gain, an entirely new world of hurt ignites when a child is brought into the equation – Such is the case when a fourteen-year-old boy named Lalo finds himself in with the wrong crowd.
Lalo, who becomes our central focus throughout the film, is propelled by an innocent crush on a classmate. Young love, we’ve all been there – Unreasonably complex, ultimately pointless in the grand scheme of things… Which is what made this story so devastating to watch as an adult. Despite being motivated by youthful enamour, the course of events demonstrates how quickly things can spiral into chaos based on one simple choice.
I was really blown away by this movie, which I honestly wasn’t expecting. Truth be told, about halfway through my interest waned ever so slightly as I felt the atmosphere of the film shift. It had become very cute, focusing on the innocent love of the two young characters… However, this ended up being a stroke of genius. My defences were entirely at bay, and I was completely obliterated by the hell of a punch packed by the third act.
Comparing this to anything I’ve seen previously is a little taxing. It was the morbid, chaotic atmosphere of Super Dark Times infused with the gruesome, realistic horrors of Dragged Across Concrete. Each of these films is bathed in a realism rooted in corners of life we often wish to ignore, tales too bleak to be accepted as forces of reality. But they’re real, and they torment our minds wherever we go.
Call me a movie masochist because I genuinely enjoy watching these horrible things, but I think it takes a really effective film to stay with the viewer for extended periods of time. We’re gifted so much wonderful content, we become over-saturated so quickly that it becomes so easy to forget. This wasn’t a heart-warmer. You won’t find a happy ending here, and I’m so thankful for that. The blissfully dark pathos of THE GASOLINE THIEVES will be haunting me for a very long time.