On Mood Indigo, perhaps my favorite film of the year

Michel Gondry’s latest film is as much heartbreaking as it is Heartwarming

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If you’ve never seen a film by Michel Gondry then you are short changing yourself.  Gondry is a visual pioneer that has revolutionized so many facets of visual effects and styles in films that you may be surprised at the depth of his repertoire.  Originally a music video director, Gondry’s use of visual themes in his work is unmistakable and is something that plays as much of a role in his work as the subject matter itself.  If you’ve seen Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind or The Science of Sleep then you know what of I speak and if you appreciate that style, then Mood Indigo is a film that you will undoubtedly enjoy.

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Set in a contemporary, yet quirky France, Mood Indigo tells the story of Colin (played by Roman Duris) a successful, retired, bachelor who fills his days inventing wild machines such as the “Pianocktail” (a wild piano type invention that dispenses a custom cocktail based around the notes that the operator plays) and enjoying the cooking of his cook/attorney/friend Nicolas played by Omar Sy.  Upon hearing that his best friend Chick(Gad Elmaleh) has found love, he makes the decision that he too must find someone to share his heart with.

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Accompanying the amusing narrative is a bold visual style that is equal parts CG and practical effects.  As the film begins, a whole slew of characters are introduced as Colin makes his way through his subway car home.  While the film is light on a traditional supporting cast, Gondry compensates by bringing to life household items to fill those spots.  Characters such as the curious rat (a man in a plush rat suit), the annoying door bell that lives only to irritate the homes occupants, and a television show chef who breaks down his third wall to assist Nicolas in his wild and inventive dishes.  All of this enhances what is basically a meet-cute story line that moves right along.

After being invited to a party full of wild personalities, Colin is struck by the beauty of Chloe who is captured wholly by the incomparable Audrey Tautou.  In Indigo, Audrey makes a return to form since 2001’s Amelie and brings back that adorable wide eyed charm that made us fall in love with her all those years ago.  Colin’s awkward advances are met with Chloe’s equally awkward reparations to her own comments.  The two agree to meet again and a whirlwind romance begins.  The all to sweet storyline takes a turn half way through the film when it is discovered that a water lily has made a home in Chloe’s lungs thus requiring Colin to begin spending all of his savings on treating Chloe’s strange condition.

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The story of Colin and Chloe’s love begins to journey from sugary sweet into melancholy as both Chloe and the film’s visual style start to deteriorate before the audience’s eyes.  Gondry’s use of the color palate is implemented in such an important way in telling this story that it provokes the necessary emotion to move you through the story.  It’s almost like Smell-o-vision in that an additional sensory stimulation adds a whole new element to propel what could be considered too silly of a storyline. What begins as a bright and colorful world full of whimsy and air transforms into one that is bland, dirty, and cramped.  This visceral change propels the story into that last five minutes of film which are simply heartbreaking.

The cast of this film is what truly sold me, and had I not seen that then I am afraid that I may have missed this film.  As a big fan of the L’Auberge Espagnole trilogy (L’Auberge Espagnole, Russian Dolls, and Chinese Puzzle), I have admired the work of Romain Duris and ever since I saw Amelie, Audrey Tautou has had a very special place in my heart so the duo’s performance in Mood Indigo plays like a Bacall/Bogart film – but French.  Now I know that Duris and Tautou aren’t usually compared to such legends, but the chemistry that the two possess from years of working together on screen translates on to film and adds to their charismatic performances.

I can’t say enough about this film.  Mood Indigo is a triumph for Michel Gondry and it’s phenomenal cast.  Reminiscent of Brazil and Amelie, Mood Indigo stands on it’s own as a visual and emotional journey that will be appreciated by movie fans around the world.

You still have a chance to see Mood Indigo at Shoreline’s Crest Cinema (for $3 BTW) so do yourself a favor and make the trip, you won’t be disappointed!

 

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