Kissing underwater two lovers revel in a perfect heavenly instant, oblivious to the unpredictably of calamity. Like the most luscious dessert their romantic odyssey brims with an engulfing sweetness, which only flaw is its finite nature. Every spoonful of vivid color in Michel Gondry’s whimsical paradise permeates the audience’s visual taste buds with a special blend of magical innocence laced with a devastatingly melancholic aftertaste. Orchestrated to beautifully obliterate the simplicity of reality “Mood Indigo” serves to materialize Boris Vian’s singular world through the director’s visionary imagination.
Sufficiently wealthy to finance his eccentric creative projects without the need for a job, insecure Colin (Romain Duris) lives in a vibrant apartment inhabited by adorably unique creatures. All of which come to life via a steady succession of artfully confected visual gimmicks. Stop-motion animation and practical trickery provide a marvelous physicality unattainable digitally. Colin’s butler turned live-in confident, Nicolas (Omar Sy), feeds him lavishly created dishes while declaring that real friendship can only be achieved from chasing girls together. This seems to become of crucial importance to the bachelor when his closest friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh), an obsessively devoted fan of writer Jean-Sol Partre, informs him he has a charming new girlfriend. Suddenly his “pianocktail” (a strange piano that mixes drinks based on the notes played) is not enough to keep Colin from feeling lonely.
Demanding to fall in love as well, the timid hero learns how to dance the sensual “biglemoi” and agrees to attend an upcoming soirée. Awkwardly scouting the crowd Colin meets the lovely Chloe (Audrey Tautou), whose delightful smile captivates him instantly. Whether flying on a cartoonish mechanical cloud while listening to catchy pop songs or clumsily ice skating the day away, Chloe and Colin courtship is a constant parade of imperfect situations but it's never dull. Beating Chick and his American girlfriend to the altar, the protagonists earn the right to marry racing in tiny cardboard karts. In one of the most gracefully dreamlike wedding sequences ever made, Gondry submerges the couple and his viewers in a moment of pure blissful romanticism.
But even in such a marvelous fantasy, inevitable injustice lurks around in the form of a flower that grows inside Chloe’s lung. Her fictitious illness makes for very real and intense emotions as Colin scrambles to see his beloved wife healthy once again. For the fascinatingly unrealistic realm the story exists in to work, the actors needed to be ready to fully dive into the uncanny atmosphere. In Tautou and Doris, Gondry found two perfect vessels to carry on the spirit of wonder evoked by the source material. They willingly give in to the extravagant poetry. They deliver heartfelt performances both incredibly joyous and, in Doris’ case, delicately gloomy. Colin attempts to literally rewrite his destiny, but the impending tragedy is unforgiving. With sadness taking over his life, the sun stops shining and all flowers are drained of color.
Gondry is a poet that writes with cinematic surrealist dreams. His vision is one of saturated beauty, so elegantly striking that is hard not to be seduced by it. In every frame the production design shines on its own without being overpowering. And even when the whole concept is about to become just a tad overwhelming, the soothing melody of the score balances the dynamic visual palette. Works like this, which come so sporadically, reinvigorate the notion of film as a limitless medium apt for the creation of the unlikeliest stories. “Mood Indigo” is an ocean of rapturous illusions for those who dare to swim in its breathtaking waters.
"Mood Indigo" is now playing in L.A at the Nuart Theater and in NYC at the Sunshine Cinema