Review: Mood Indigo

Mood Indigo
8 10

PLOT: When a lonely - yet extremely wealthy - inventor discovers the love of his life they exchange wedding vows in hopes to share their life together. However, when she is diagnosed with a rare illness he discovers he must give up everything he has to try and save her.

REVIEW: Michel Gondry has a style all his own. It is one that is childlike, yet deeply romantic and eccentric. His latest feature MOOD INDIGO – based on the novel "L'écume des jours" by Boris Vian – is a whimsical yet heartbreaking romance. As wildly eccentric as it is, the visionary filmmaker has a thing or two to say about class, invention, love and even politics. The version that I took part in according to the press notes is, “Michel Gondry’s shorter, preferred cut for American audiences.” I’ve not seen the extended version, nor have I read the book on which it was based, so aside from the trailer I was ready to take it all in with an open mind. Happily, going in to this mystical and musical flick was a fresh movie going experience. This is a wild and joyous oddity that will still stay with you long after the credits role.

As simple a story as this may be, the aesthetics of the film are outrageously bizarre. Even the modest of settings is replicated in some unique fashion. Some of which is exaggerated, while others are just off-the-wall, so much so that you have to wonder how the hell Gondry envisioned such a thing. While some of this may have come from the novel – again, I’m not familiar with it – you have to give the director credit for the imaginative process used to create such images – a miniaturized man in a mouse suit, the wall clock that is a less gruesome version of the typewriter bug in NAKED LUNCH, and so much more. The use of special effects is imaginative, and strangely appealing. Considering the quirky nature of this romantic fable, there is massive sense of wonder in the proceedings. This compelling aspect most assuredly would have been non-existent had this been a more traditional story.

Colin (played by Romain Duris) is a wealthy inventor who lives a solitary life in the company of his butler/lawyer/friend Nicolas (Omar Sy). When best pal Chick (Gad Elmaleh) shows up for lunch one day, he informs Colin of his own romance with a relative of Nicolas, the lovely Alyse (Aissa Maiga). With this news, Colin is convinced to go to a party and try and meet a girl and crawl out of the hole he has created for himself. While there, he discovers a lovely woman by the name of Chloe (Audrey Tautou). With a rough start, she instantly is charmed by his awkward advances and soon the two find themselves spending much of their time together. After their delirious affection grows, they decide to get married and spend the rest of their lives together. Yet bad fortune chimes in leaving her with a strange illness that seemingly can only be cured by fresh cut flowers. If that sounds a little strange to you, you have no idea.

One striking image that runs throughout MOOD INDIGO is a large room with dozens of men and women frantically taking turns typing on revolving typewriters. This idea of one couple’s fate being controlled by a group of strangers is an intriguing one. At one point, Colin somehow finds himself in the room trying to save his sickly wife yet he is dragged away not allowed to take part. The many subtle (and mostly not so subtle) symbolic images here are equal parts outlandish and compelling. Even the color scheme seems to match the surrealistic and cheerfully sublime passion as well as the bleak and grey cloud that hangs over her illness – which is caused by a water lily that grows inside her lung. Gondry explores this romantic entanglement with such a blissful energy that it is hard to not be taken in by the sheer audacity of it all. Unless of course you like your love story straightforward, then this is one flower you’d probably not be inclined to pick.

While the style will thrill many – or confound depending on your taste - it is the perfect casting that made such a beautiful cinematic bouquet. Tautou (AMELIE) is a sight to behold, perhaps even a modern day Audrey Hepburn. She is graceful and charming and most of all sympathetic. It is easy to involve yourself as a viewer in the instant chemistry she creates with co-star Duris. As a man wallowing in his own fortune until he loses it trying to hold on to his true love, he gives a wonderfully impressive performance. Even the supporting players are quite good, especially Omar Sy as Nicholas as well as Aissa Maiga who is also trying desperately to “save” her love – from something altogether different.

While I can appreciate a darkly romantic tale, it is slightly disheartening to watch this engaging hour and a half take on such a dreary tone near the end. This makes sense certainly even though it seems to happen so suddenly that you have to wonder if perhaps the extended version made a more successful transition. Stylistically it works as the bright colors make an exchange for a somber black and white, yet it somehow feels as if a little too drastic of a shift. Or perhaps I was so caught up in the unadulterated madness that started it all off, that I just wasn’t ready for its changing tide. With only that slight complaint, MOOD INDIGO is such an off-beat and entertaining story that I can fully recommend to fans of Gondry. This melodic and slightly melancholy feature is his best work since ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.

Source: JoBlo.com



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