Monday, May 20, 2024


THE STORYFive teenagers from small-town Oregon, with high school in the rearview, decide to embark on one last adventure: make it to a place they’ve never been – the Pacific coast, 500 miles away.

THE CASTTony Abuerto, Micah Bunch, Nichole Dukes, Nathaly Garcia & Makai Garza

THE TEAMBill Ross IV & Turner Ross (Directors/Writers)


Turner and Bill Ross IV, or the Ross Brothers, are a filmmaking pair clearly disinterested in making films that can easily be slotted into a specific genre (or, to look at it another way, they’re working to expand the way that audiences view film beyond such labels as fiction or nonfiction). Their latest, “Gasoline Rainbow,” continues this trajectory with a mix of documentary stylings, clearly unscripted scenarios, and non-professional actors. It tells a familiar story about the unbottled energy of youth on the edge of adulthood. Every generation gets its form-shifting cinematic depiction, from “Rebel Without a Cause” to “Kids,” and “Gasoline Rainbow” serves to show the anxieties and joys of a group of Gen Z teens. Much like the image that its perfect title conjures up, it’s both a thing of beauty and, appropriately, messy. And while it sometimes frustrates more than anything, it remains utterly truthful from start to finish.

The rambling film follows five teens fresh out of high school, portrayed by a quintet of young folk all making their acting debut (Tony Abuerto, Micah Bunch, Nichole Dukes, Nathaly Garcia, and Makai Garza, referred to in the film by their real first names). In a burst of rebellion, they venture out of their small hometown in Oregon for one last adventure before the dreaded monster of grown-up responsibilities swallows them whole. Despite growing up so close to the Pacific Ocean, none of them have ever seen it for themselves, and they make it their mission to hit the coast hundreds of miles from their inland nest.

They begin their adventure in a van. The film opens with them stealing away under cover of darkness, and once they’re all onboard, they belt out the lyrics to “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” The words don’t seem to register with the characters as descriptive of their current time and place in life. As the film goes on to show, they will soon be making memories that will stick with them into their old age when they look back on the days when everything was truly as fresh as the bright blue sky that Guns N’ Roses sings about.

Soon after, circumstances force them to seek other methods of transportation, including, most notably, hopping on board a train with a pair of well-meaning hobos. This thrilling sequence shows the five kids fully diving into their free-spirited lifestyle, making the commitment to quite literally jump into an exciting but perilous new chapter of their young lives.

As they make their way westward, they continuously bump into strangers who quickly make their acquaintance, guiding them to an array of parties, hangouts, and, on occasion, necessities like food and shelter. Thankfully, the film avoids manufactured conflict with these potentially dangerous interactions. Instead, folks living on the fringes of society are shown to be friendly, kind, and generous, highlighting the fact that many people escape the confines of a standard capitalist existence because they can’t stand the cruelties that are baked into the system.

Unsurprisingly, the film’s concept allows for natural, free-flowing dialogue, as the teens have meandering, aimless conversations that are appropriate not only for characters of their age but also for the mindset that took them on this journey. At times, this does get exhausting, as does the entire nature of their adventure in general. Still, there are occasional profound moments throughout, such as one heartbreaking scene where Nathaly tells of her father’s deportation to a stranger.

Because of the method of filmmaking, the quality of the camerawork sometimes takes a back seat to necessity. Night scenes, in particular, are mostly indiscernible, with characters’ faces cloaked in darkness in a way that often makes it impossible to make them out or distinguish who is talking, especially earlier in the film when the audience is still getting used to the characters. Still, there are a surprising number of beautiful close-ups, especially towards the end of the film, as their journey comes to a close, perfectly framing the film’s subjects and emphasizing their uniqueness.

“Gasoline Rainbow” is a perfect example of a quality all art should aspire to: raw honesty. The teens spend much of the film in search of a party called The End of the World, but just as they may feel that their own personal worlds are ending as they’re dragged into adulthood, they discover what scores of former kids have found as they make that uneasy transition: what matters more than your destination or ultimate goals are the people you connect with as you head towards them. But what sets them apart from teens, as typically depicted in films of generations past, is how unafraid they are to express their love for each other. Rather than resorting to constant childish mocking, the five constantly express platonic affection for each other, showing just how much more enjoyable life can be when one doesn’t turn away from love in all its forms.


THE GOOD - The young characters take an inspiring journey to the Pacific coast and into adulthood in an unvarnished, raw, and always honest manner. Supremely truthful from start to finish and ultimately inspiring.

THE BAD - The unscripted dialogue and wandering nature can occasionally frustrate.



Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

Cody Dericks
Cody Dericks
Actor, awards & musical theatre buff. Co-host of the horror film podcast Halloweeners.

Related Articles

Stay Connected


Latest Reviews

<b>THE GOOD - </b>The young characters take an inspiring journey to the Pacific coast and into adulthood in an unvarnished, raw, and always honest manner. Supremely truthful from start to finish and ultimately inspiring.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The unscripted dialogue and wandering nature can occasionally frustrate.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"GASOLINE RAINBOW"