Watercolors and Wild Flowers
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Romain Duris
Review written by Robert D. Patrick
From the hallucinatory hopscotch of Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind to the wonky fabric of Be Kind Rewind, French director Michel Gondry is known for dipping his paintbrush in clouds. The animated aesthetic of the auteur is on display in his newest opus, Mood Indigo. Adapted from Boris Vian’s book, Froth on the Daydream, Gondry fuels up his kaleidoscopic palette and lets the colors burst.
Colin (Romain Duris) is a wealthy bachelor that consumes decadent meals created by his charismatic cook, Nicolas (Omar Sy). When our dapper protagonist isn’t ravenously eating pastel-colored cakes, he longs for romance. This, of course, is where the doe-eyed Chloé (Audrey Tautou) enters the scene. Vibrantly dressed, somewhat coy, and typically Tautou, Chloé lassos the attention of the doting Colin. As advertised, breezy visuals wash over the film. Wistful melodies bounce and concuss the two lovers until they marry one another. Romantic as it may be, Chloé, in a dash of bad luck, becomes ill when a flower begins to sprout in her lungs, causing her to grow sick and weary.
Visually, director Michel Gondry is floating somewhere between the construction paper landscape of Spike Jonze and the bulbous eccentricities of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Mood Indigo is affluent in style, there is no question, but the set design never gets in the way of the storytelling. No movie has been this emotionally authentic, while maintaining its abstract compass, since Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York. A particularly jaunty spectacle, early in the film, involves an irreverent use of Duke Ellington and some spectacularly nimble dance moves (worth the admission alone).
Expect shoes, food, plates, and even bodies to move around like Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” music video. And while it’s all fun and relentlessly odd, Mood Indigo is an unparalleled mosaic of sweetness and cyanide that only Gondry could have tightrope walked.