Gasoline aka Benzina (2001) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring: Maya Sansa, Regina Orioli, Mariella Valentini, Luigi Maria Burruano, Chiara Conti
Director: Monica Stambrini

The theme of GASOLINE aka BENZINA has very strong similarities to the increasingly desperate situation found in THELMA AND LOUISE, but it doesn’t make anywhere near the same impact. The film centres around two young lovers, Stella (Maya Sansa) and Lenni (Regina Orioli), who lead a quiet life at a gas station with their dog Clio. They are contented and happy with each other until Lenni’s mother arrives by cab. Her increasingly abusive and forceful behaviour into her daughter Lenni’s life ends abruptly when Stella comes to her lover’s defence hitting the mother who falls against the bar and in a freak accident suffers a fatal blow to the head.

From then on events seem to conspire against them as if their fate has been sealed as they become embroiled in one setback after another while they attempt to dispose of the mother’s body (because Stella decides there’s no other course of action they can take). With Lenni in shock and hearing her mother talking to her, Stella has to deal with two (assholes as she refers to them) guys and a girl passenger who has a video camera. They are determined to fill up with petrol even when told the gas station is closed. Stella argues, fumes inwardly and then reluctantly fills their tank but exacts her revenge by scratching their car as they exit.

Stella and Lenni’s path continually crosses with these three strangers and each time as the night drags on the guys become more and more aggressive and hostile towards them. Their relationship is tested more and more, and their blissful existence slips further over the horizon as they find themselves thwarted and backed into an increasingly tighter corner with fewer options. The fact that they are in a lesbian relationship makes them more of a target here plus the large sum of cash in Lenni’s possession that her mother was bringing to her is another appetizer for the guys.

This really is a rip off of THELMA AND LOUISE but with lesbian overtones and it almost seems implausible that at every turn the heroines take, waiting around the corner to confuse and harass them are the same two guys.

The lesbian love scenes are not that explicit and are more along the lines of them exploring their first love for each other and actually seem very unsophisticated. Also as this is an Italian movie it’s subtitled which will lessen its appeal to the masses.

2 out of 6 stars