Mood Indigo // Joys and sorrows

Directed by Michel Gondry
Starring Audrey Tatou, Romain Duris, Gad Elmaleh, Omar Sy


Love, life and death. Three enormous themes beautifully tackled by one of the most inventive and original directors working today. Michel Gondry is best known for Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and this may be as good if not better than that modern classic.

Mood Indigo will simultaneously fill you up with a tonic of happiness then by the end leave you waist-deep in a dark pool of depression. The narrative has a gradient structure, it starts with a childlike sense of joy, a certain playfulness: doorbells that run around like critters, a piano that churns out cocktails, baked goods served in mini ovens, paper mache eels, a Rubik's cube agenda. I could go on and on. 

Then there's the love story. Colin (Duris) meets Chloe (Tatou) at a party. Their first date is spent flying over Paris in a cloud that sort of looks like a UFO and is lifted by a crane. There's the inevitable awkwardness but then there's also that romantic spark. 

The rest of the story plays out conventionally but because we are in Gondry's world, conventionality is forgiven because we are seeing it from different eyes. It feels new even though it's familiar. Everything feels inevitable. They fall in love, and so they get married (a fantastic sequence that involves a race to the altar) but of course, nothing can ever be this perfect and that's when the inevitable realities of life kicks in.

Eventually Chloe falls ill when a water lily starts to grow inside her lung. The world is starting to shift, its becoming less light, there's a nagging feeling of dread. Even the space itself can sense this and it starts to feel claustrophobic, the walls are closing in. The colours are less colourful and the smiles start to wear away.

By the end of the film the colours became completely absent and the film is projected in monochrome. It's as if the film itself knew what was happening and was reacting appropriately. Everything had a consciousness - the light, the colours, the objects, the places. Everything around the characters reacted to the narrative. I felt like the very theatre I was in was going to start to wither away. 

Some may feel overwhelmed and call the film 'overindulgent' (God, I hate that word) but I truly admire Gondry's doughtiness in the way he realises his particular vision on screen. It was overwhelming but I kept wanting more. He prepared a feast for the eyes and I was gobbling it up. Sometimes gluttony is a good thing, especially for surrealist cinema. It's the only way. Either go for it or don't even try. 

By the end of its two hour running time, I felt like I've lived a whole lifetime - from youth to love to marriage. To illness and finally to death. Almost like I was given somebody's life in compressed form. The film magnifying its highs and lows. I was carried by its lightness then inevitably had to carry its weight. I walked out of the theatre feeling like I've aged and completely exhausted. 

That too is inevitable.  

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