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Mood Indigo (A Movie Review)

Updated: 4 days ago

Mood Indigo

Mood Indigo


Starring Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Omar Sy, Aïssa Maïga, Charlotte Le Bon, Sacha Bourdo, Vincent Rottiers, Philippe Torreton, Laurent Lafitte, Alain Chabat, Zinedine Soualem, Natacha Régnier, Marina Rozenman, Matthieu Paulus, Paul Gondry, Michel Gondry and August Darnell.

Screenplay by Michel Gondry and Luc Bossi.

Directed by Michel Gondry.

Distributed by Drafthouse Films.  94 minutes.  Not Rated.

There is a fine line between whimsical and twee, a line upon which the latest film by famously surrealistic French director Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind) trips quite often.

Gondry is such an endlessly fascinating visual artist that this problem does not completely overwhelm Mood Indigo, but it does periodically overpower the source material.

Well, not so much overpower as work at odds with that source.  Mood Indigo is based on the beloved 1947 cult novel Froth on a Daydream by Boris Vian.  The book has long been considered unfilmable, and in a strange way Mood Indigo sort of proves that point.  Like Gondry, Vian’s story-telling tends to be very surrealistic and sarcastic.  However, Vian goes deeper into darkness than Gondry seems comfortable with.  Also, Gondry’s playful side gets stifled the further the story goes.

It is a satire of affluence.  Colin (Romain Duris) and Chloe (Audrey Tautou) are pampered singles in a timeless Dali-esque take on Paris.  With their friends, they hang out, go to parties and live in wild excess worthy of a Cole Porter song or Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby.

The early scenes of Mood Indigo have the anarchic, colorful, gleeful wild life and tone of a Gallic Pee Wee’s Playhouse or an old Peter Gabriel video, but quickly the whimsy bolts past clever to overdone.  The film gets progressively darker – to the point that late scenes are completely filmed in black and white – but it never quite outgrows this first impression.

Colin and Chloe fall in love and get married immediately, but when she gets sick (with a very fanciful storybook illness – a waterlily starts to grow inside her lung) the couple spend all their money trying to help her recover.  As Chloe continues to get sicker, Colin becomes desperate for money and has to work for the first time in his life.

As Colin and Chloe’s desperation becomes stronger, Gondry’s airy directorial style starts to slip and his odd little embellishments become smaller and less vital.  Eventually the film becomes a dark Fellini-esque nightmare, an interesting stylistic change, but one that does not feel so comfortable for Gondry.

Still, despite the fact that the film does not quite hold together in the long run, there are so many sumptuously intriguing shots and off-kilter images that Mood Indigo certainly deserves exploration.

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2014 All rights reserved. Posted: August 12, 2014. 


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