The Gasoline Thieves

Most people that I know, myself included, got into a fair amount of trouble in their teen years. I have some stories that are best saved for another time about the myriad of dumb choices that I made between the ages of 13-19 that will likely make you feel much better about yourself, but this is definitely not what we’re talking about right now…so I digress. The reason I brought that up is because Edgar Nito’s brilliant debut feature The Gasoline Thieves (aka Huachicolero) centers on a teenage boy named Lalo (Eduardo Banda) who gets himself into a lot of trouble.

Lalo is a middle school student who makes extra money by selling “jerry cans” of gasoline to local farmers that he buys from Don Gil (Fernando Becerril). The entire country of Mexico is currently in the middle of a gasoline shortage. A lot of people make tons of money from stealing gasoline and re-selling it on the black market for cheaper than what it is at the pump..which is definitely also the plot for one of my favorite episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but that’s neither here nor there.

“Lalo is a middle school student who makes extra money by selling ‘jerry cans’ of gasoline to local farmers.”

Lalo has a massive crush on Ana (Regina Reynoso), who is dating an older boy named Rulo (Pedro Joaquin), who is one of those people who makes tons of money from selling gasoline. These people are also referred to as Huachicoleros.

Lalo tries to ask Ana to be his girlfriend, and she says that he would have to buy her an amazing gift, such as an iPhone, to get her to date him. So, at this point in the film, he does whatever he can to make money to buy Ana her cell phone. He makes it first by selling gas he got on credit from Don Gil, but then his mother takes it to help her brother who just had surgery. At this point, Lalo figures he needs to take his career to the next level, and joins up with the Huachicoleros at the behest of Rulo.

Lalo’s mother (Myriam Bravo) is suspicious that Lalo is up to no good but can’t do much about it because she has to work and can’t watch him all the time. Lalo ends up making a good bit of money working with Rulo and his cousin Mariano (Pascacio López). He’s able to get Ana a really cool smartphone with a yellow bunny-ear case. In a perfect world, that would be that. The criminal underworld is definitely far from perfect, however. To compound Lalo’s troubles, Mariano is being watched closely by a police commander (Leonardo Alonso), who is more on the Bad Lieutenant than Officer Friendly side of the law.

“The ending to the film is one of the best and most shocking I’ve seen in quite some time…”

At this point in the film, and for about the last 45 minutes, it’s far from sunshine and roses. It’s one of the best third acts of a film I’ve seen this year so far. This film has been a fan and critic favorite, for very good reason. It’s a coming-of-age tale, yes, but unlike quite a few of them, it’s honest, and the ending is very realistic for someone inhabiting the space that Lalo does in the film. The camera work and effects in The Gasoline Thieves are very powerful.

Additionally, Edgar Nito and Alfredo Mendoza’s script leaves you in all sorts of suspense. The ending to the film is one of the best and most shocking I’ve seen in quite some time, and if that’s a spoiler, sue me (don’t actually do that…you won’t get much, and I cannot afford the attorney fees). Hopefully, it’ll get you to see the film. It’s a supremely impressive effort on behalf of Nito, the cast, and the crew. I’m curious to see what happens with The Gasoline Thieves after its festival run. Hopefully, some smart Director of Acquisitions has already scooped it up for their company. I’m looking forward to finding out.

The Gasoline Thieves (2019) Written by Alfredo Mendoza and Edgar Nito. Directed by Edgar Nito. Starring Eduardo Bando, Regina Reynoso, Fernando Becerril, Pascacio López, Pedro Joaquin, Leonardo Alonso, Myriam Bravo, Waldo Faco.

9 out of 10 stars

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