Mood Indigo (2013)

Director:  Michel Gondry
Cast:  Romain DurisAudrey TautouGad Elmaleh, Omar Sy
Plot:  A woman suffers from an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs.

Genre:  Drama / Fantasy / Romance
Awards:  -
Runtime:  94min
Rating:  NC16 for some nudity.

When you leave a filmmaker like Michel Gondry to his devices, what comes out from his brilliant mind is pure artistry of a whimsical nature.  Nearly every frame screams Gondry, and while he delights in showing us a reality far removed from what we ordinarily perceive, he also brings to the table a sort of realism best described as “magical realism” that fills the story with warmth, fear and love. 

Mood Indigo is his latest feature, one that is oozing with creativity and strong appealing visuals, yet it remains curiously uninvolving.  Best known (and probably would forever be known) for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Gondry has never hit that kind of heights since. 

Audrey Tautou is the familiar face here playing Chloe, the love interest of a man named Colin (Romain Duris) who is unemployed and is quickly running out of cash.  They get married, but Chloe suffers from an unusual illness caused by a plant growing in her lungs, and in the name of love, Colin spends his time (and money) to get her to become better. 

Mood Indigo works out traditionally narratively, but Gondry’s treatment inevitably pushes conventionality out of the window with visuals that are sumptuous, absurd and often magical, and almost always in a humorous way.  It is a vibrant love story filled with comedy, though it changes its mood and tone to a more melancholic, reflective one in the final third… and this I thought was done quite well.

So I find it strange that the film does not engage as well as it ought to.  I can’t figure out why.  Maybe it’s the narrative structure lacking in ideas, failing to compensate for its outstanding aesthetics?  Or perhaps the dialogue becomes uninteresting after a while?  Or just maybe this movie is too beautiful to look at, it becomes hard to care too much about the story and the characters, and I daresay, the performances. 

Mood Indigo reminds me of the works of fellow Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, 2001;  Micmacs, 2009), maybe because Tautou and whimsicality has always been an excellent match, but more crucially, I think Jeunet and Gondry share a charming and uninhibited sense of the world.  They are cinematic cousins who milk their vision from the same pot.  They don’t always make great movies, but their pot is never empty.

Verdict:  Oozing with whimsical creativity and strong, delightful visuals, but it remains curiously uninvolving.


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