After inadvertently causing the death of her abusive mother (Mariella Valentini), a young lesbian, Lenni (Regina Orioli), flees with her auto-mechanic girlfriend, Stella (Maya Sansa), with Mama's body in the trunk of their car and a gang of crazies in hot pursuit. La vita sure ain't dolce, and did you know that Italian slang for "dyke" is, amusingly enough, "camionista" (truck driver)?

Gasoline is the directorial debut of Monica Stambrini, and, unfortunately, it has tyro written all over it. Her source material is a book by Elena Stancanelli, and it's evident that she is trying for a novelistic approach to this episodic road movie. She has the voice of the dead woman, still berating her hapless daughter, as she hauls Mama's corpse around, a conceit that will really challenge audience patience. Woozy handheld shots are meant to impart energy but are mainly just irritating. Those girls can never seem to shake a trio of punks who constantly pop up in their faces and, simply, not enough happens. There are some momentarily hot scenes between the lovers, which reportedly aroused the ire of many an Italian male viewer back home.

But for those who just can't get enough of Thelma & Louise or any of its numerous imitators, this birra's for you. Sansa has a dark, cloudy sensuality as a young butch, while Orioli does bespectacled nerd to a fare-thee-well. (You just wanna shake some sense into her.) The best performance is actually by Valentini, who, even dead, imparts an elegant authority which the rest of the film sorely lacks.

--David Noh