'Mood Indigo,' a surreal romance, all head-spinning and lovely
It's hard not to take delight in Michel Gondry and his whooshing, bendable universe.
The French filmmaker brought Charlie Kaufman's mad love story Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) to life, infusing it with a trippy energy (and making Jim Carrey tolerable - more than tolerable, in fact - for one of the few times in his career). In The Science of Sleep (2006), Gondry plopped Gael Garcia Bernal into a waking dream, and made the coolest car ever, out of cardboard. Be Kind Rewind (2008), set in a video store in Passaic, was a loopy (literally and figuratively) celebration of movie geekdom that offered a unique solution to the problem of video piracy.
Gondry's latest, Mood Indigo, is a jazzy, madcap, surreal romance set in a gravity-free Paris full of flowers and song and friendly little anthropomorphic creatures that scurry underfoot. Its stars are the stubbly-bearded Gallic go-to guy Romain Duris, and the she'll-always-be-Amelie-no-matter-how-hard-she-tries-not-to-be Audrey Tautou. He's Colin, a rich layabout who lives in a kind of expanding train car perched on a rooftop, where he simultaneously makes music and drinks on his "pianocktail," talks philosophy with his personal chef (Omar Sy, of The Intouchables), and spins old vinyl to his heart's content. She's Chloé, a radiant miss whom Colin meets at a party and then falls for, while dancing, and ice-skating, and flying above the arrondissements in a swan from an amusement-park ride. Life should be swell, but then they get married, and then Chloé gets sick.
Adapted from Boris Vian's 1947 novel Froth on the Daydream, Gondry's Mood Indigo looks like it was art-directed by René Magritte in cahoots with Rube Goldberg. Now and then, mostly during the hyperactive musical numbers, the actors' limbs start to elongate, in the manner of old cartoons.
It's all head-spinning and lovely - and a little exhausting, too.
Mood Indigo *** (Out of four stars)
Directed by Michel Gondry. With Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Omar Sy, Charlotte Le Bon. In French with subtitles. Distributed by Drafthouse Films.
Running time: 1 hour, 32 mins.
Parent's guide: No MPAA rating (adult themes).
Playing at: Ritz Bourse.