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Monday, March 10, 2014

MOOD INDIGO Review: Rendez-Vous with French Cinema

Audrey Tautou (left) and Romain Duris (right) in Michel Gondry's MOOD INDIGO
Courtesy of Drafthouse Films

2014, 95 minutes
Not Rated

Review by Joshua Handler

Michel Gondry was in attendence for a post-screening Q&A for this screening of Mood Indigo.  Rendez-Vous with French Cinema is a collaboration between the Film Society of Lincoln Center, IFC Center, and BAMcinématek and runs through March 16.

Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo is an exhilarating experience brimming with life, love, and an immense amount of imagination.  The first hour of Indigo is breathless, moving at an insanely fast pace and stuffed with delightful visuals and inventions that only Gondry could create.  The film's second half is no less compelling, but is darker and more melancholic.

Mood Indigo tells the story of the romance between Colin (Romain Duris) and Chloé (Audrey Tautou).  On their wedding night, something floats into Chloé's mouth while she's asleep and she grows a water lily in her lung, which threatens her life.

With Mood Indigo, Gondry goes back to what he does best: being a visionary.  While the films I've seen that he's created in between (Be Kind, Rewind and The We and the I) have been plenty imaginative, they lack the craziness and passion of Eternal Sunshine and Mood Indigo.  Indigo is like a cross between a Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Tim Burton film with its original inventions and extensive use of stop-motion animation.  The fast pace of the first part of Mood Indigo has a sense of discovery found in very few films.  In every scene, Gondry offers up something new, something exciting that furthers the realization of the world he's creating.  Because of this, watching Mood Indigo reminded me of the first time I saw Her; there were new discoveries and strokes of genius around every corner in both films.

Audrey Tautou, Romain Duris, and Omar Sy head up the phenomenal cast for the film.  Duris and Tautou's chemistry is strong and their abundant energy lights up the screen.  Sy (best-known for his leading role in The Intouchables) is a magnetic screen presence who strengthens every scene he's in.  

Gondry's homemade visual effects (reminiscent of those that Terry Gilliam used in Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) and stop-motion animation make each scene a wonder to watch and the breakneck pace of the editing makes this film feel like a whirlwind.  While it wasn't always easy to follow Mood Indigo, that certainly didn't detract, as I enjoyed myself throughout.

Overall, Mood Indigo is a wondrous film that will prove to be divisive, but Gondry and fantasy fans will fall in love with it.  I loved every single minute.  While there may be some moments that don't work and the film isn't as emotionally resonant as I wish it was, Mood Indigo is always interesting, which is more than I can say for many films I watch.  Of the many 2014 releases I've seen, this is certainly around the top.  It is so rare to see a film directed by a person with as much creative freedom and artistic vision as Gondry, and getting to see that vision onscreen is a unique pleasure.  This cut of Mood Indigo was cut by nearly 30 minutes for international release after many complaints that the film was too long.  I'm very curious to see the original cut because this one is simply fantastic (and is yet another fantastic acquisition by Drafthouse Films).


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