Friday, September 6, 2013

Mood Indigo

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Mood Indigo - trailer

A woman suffers from an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs.

PT1M55S 620 349 September 5, 2013

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

French music-video director turned feature filmmaker Michel Gondry appears more sensitive to audience needs than most.

The original edit of his new feature - a visually mind-spinning journey about a wealthy man, Colin (Romain Duris), and his pixie-esque wife, Chloe (Audrey Tautou) - was almost 30 minutes longer than this 94-minute edit.

After opening this year's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, it was withdrawn after unflattering notices. A radical rethink was needed. The new version is indeed markedly different, as its distributor, Vendetta Films, has warned.

The darker aspects of the third act have been largely removed, as expected, but it fails to make the new-look Mood Indigo (L'Ecume des jours) - based on the 1947 French cult novel Froth on the Daydream by Boris Vian - any more satisfying.


Visually, it is a feast. For much of the first act, the camera races to keep up with Colin and his hapless manservant (The Intouchables' Omar Sy), while all manner of bizarre flips occur as everyday objects become animated: light switches turn into mechanical bugs, food comes alive, and dwarves pop up for no discernible reason. It's like a French surrealist pastiche to Terry Gilliam that's too clever (or enthusiastic) for its own good.

Tautou - whose character has a water lily growing inside her lung - is mining similar territory to her breakout hit, Amelie, and her presence feels tired and misguided. Equally, Duris, while likeable, fails to engage us in his off-the-wall antics, although he's probably not helped by the new edit.

''This story is entirely true because I imagined it from one end to the other,'' we're informed at the beginning. Minutes in, you'd be forgiven for blurting out, ''So what?''

With the right material, Gondry is a filmmaker of distinct talent. Who could forget the extraordinary pairing of Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Why he chose this particular French novel to tackle in such a flamboyant way I don't know. It has been adapted for the screen twice before - in 1968 and 2001 - without the whiz-bang assistance of computer animation.

I found the whole thing ill-conceived and rather tiresome. The jazz score - Mood Indigo being the 1930s Duke Ellington tune - works. But little else does.
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