“I’ll slap anyone who worries,” said the sick Chloé.
Mood Indigo sprays the same nuance as Gondry’s earlier work, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; both films are unusual love story expanded with his astonishing creative mind. Both gives impressions that the auteur Michel Gondry is a romantic with dozens of inventions to enhance cinematic experiences. While Eternal Sunshine enhances the emotion of the story with bizarre visuals, Mood Indigo does something else: exploiting its whimsical visuals to represent emotions and feelings, not just enhance them. The result is visually beautiful with every Gondry’s signature visual peculiarities, but lacks of emotion-depth.
Mood Indigo is Gondry’s visions of the French novel L’écume des Jours (literally The Foam of Days) by Boris Vian; a surreal piece of work about love and ailment. Set in Paris in a parallel universe, the love story revolves around the life of Colin (Romain Duris), a rich bachelor acquainted by his best friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh) and lawyer-cook Nicolas (Omar Sy). During the high tides of his life, he meets Chloé (Audrey Tautou), who eventually becomes his wife.
A twist of fate happen during their honeymoon; Chloe is mortally sick—a water lily grows on her lungs, and she can only survives if she’s surrounded by flowers. Colin works his everything out only to cure Chloé until there’s nothing left on him—not even money or dignity. As the tone goes tragic and melancholy along with Chloé’s getting weaker, everything around her gets shrinking, and the colour palette fades leaving black and white in the end.
Gondry works with every visual madness to enrich the whimsical tone to the story, to add more peculiarity, to represent the emotion—mesmerizing CGI, riveting stop-motion, his mise en scène manipulation, and his signature frames of reference technique. However, his decision to strip down the emotion and replace it with bizarre visuals seemingly takes a serious toll; Mood Indigo seems toneless and there’s no-depth in everything but the visuals.
Perhaps, Mood Indigo is not intended to be a serious love story in Gondry’s vision; perhaps, he only wants it to be a motion paintings to express the feeling of L’écume des Jours. If it works like that, Mood Indigo is definitely a masterpiece; but if it’s not, Mood Indigo is a masterpiece with narrative problems.
Mood Indigo (2013)
a.k.a L’écume des Jours
Drama, Fantasy, Comedy Directed by: Michel Gondry Written by: Michel Gondry, Luc Bossi based on novel by Boris Vian Starred by: Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Omar Sy Running Time: 94 mins Not Rated by MPAA