Mood Indigo (French: L’écume des jours), 2013
Directed by Michel Gondry.
Starring Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Omar Sy, Aïssa Maïga and Charlotte Le Bon.
Wealthy, inventive bachelor Colin endeavors to find a cure for his lover Chloe after she’s diagnosed with an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs.
I can honestly say I’ve never seen a film quite like Mood Indigo before. I’d be lying if I said everything I saw made sense, or if I could articulate what was happening and why, but director Michel Gondry has a truly unique style and it’s one I am certainly in favour of, but would not wish to see anyone else attempt it.
The plot is straightforward (to a degree) as Colin and Chloe, two hip Parisians, meet, fall in love, get married, and then Chloe is diagnosed with a disease, and Colin must do all he can to help her. The film is constantly walking a fine line between whimsical, weird, sweet, funny, and later on, melancholy, but it achieves each these tones without ever becoming annoying or pretentious. Admittedly, in some parts it nearly tipped over into the annoying, but there’s simply too much ingenious stuff going on in each scene, I could not help but allow the film to win me over.
As for the visual, the real reason to see the film, I defy anyone not to look upon them in awe. When I see a film with this level of creativity on display I can only wonder at what goes on in a mind like Gondry’s and how he could even begin to describe what it is he has envisioned and how that might translate to the screen. Is there any ‘reason’ for them to exist in the film? Possibly not, but then that’s the entire reason for the film to exist; to show us what’s possible when a film maker thinks way, way outside ‘the box’, as they say.
Allow me to list a few of those exceptional visuals; a stop-motion alarm clock which moves like a spider; shoes which walk on their own; a dance which requires characters to stretch their legs like Inspector Gadget; keeping one’s schedule on a Rubik’s Cube (which made me laugh out loud); a mouse living in an exact scale replica of Colin’s apartment and that mouse being played by a man in costume; a cloud vehicle attached to a construction crane which transports our two lovers around Paris; and my personal favourite, the ‘Pianocktail’ whereby cocktails are created depending on the notes the piano player hits… Trust me, you have to see it to believe it, and this is only scratching the surface of the weird and crazy things which Gondry adds to every scene of his film. It is a production designer’s dream.
Despite my unabashed love for the look and execution of the film, I could see why some might dislike it and not stick around for the end. It is clearly not for everyone’s taste and an open mind is essential when approaching the film for it make’s Gondry’s much-celebrated Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind look straightforward and linear. I will say that, as the film went on and we were asked to feel sadness for certain characters, the whimsy and quirkiness does work at odds with the narrative, so the film isn’t without its flaws but these are far outweighed by the film’s visuals.
Perhaps it’s that sexy French charm, but I’d recommend everyone to at least give Mood Indigo a chance because the rewards are huge if it’s something you can get on board with. It’s certainly one I’ll be revisiting and I look forward to it already.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Rohan Morbey – follow me on Twitter.