The story from which the Mood Indigo is adapted, L’Écume des jours written by Boris Vian, has been lauded for its cinematic, curious qualities, but has been deemed impossible to film. With Gondry’s adaptation, the reputation remains.
“I demand to fall in love, too,” says the inventive, idealistic bachelor Colin (Romain Duris). His firm, good-natured, and childlike request launches a manhunt for love that will lead him quickly into the arms of Chloe (a predictably adorable Audrey Tautou), a woman who embodies the Duke Ellington tune from which the movie takes its name. Everything is hunky dory, and then just as quickly as the whirlwind romance kindled, Chloe is diagnosed with a rare condition — she has a water lily growing in her lungs — that may topple Colin’s lavish lifestyle.
But forget all that, because Gondry’s talents lie less with storytelling and rather with visual artistry. In each scene another whizzing, whirring, or wheeling and dealing anthropomorphized object whips into the frame, sacrificing substance for whimsy, or at least distracting the audience from digging into anything deeper. Could the computer that decides Colin’s “favorite spot in Paris” is a construction site be a critique on our society’s dependence of technology? Look, a piano that makes cocktails! … Is the five-course meal bulldozed away before completion commentary on excess? Look, Colin’s lawyer/housemate and suave motherfucker Nicolas (Omar Sy) has legs that stretch like Gumby! … While it’s fun, it’s only fun, and it could be more.
There is no denying the artistry. Anyone who has seen what this guy can do with Legos in The White Stripes’ “Fell In Love With A Girl” music video knows what Gondry’s tinker toy-obsessed brain can concoct. So enjoy the stop motion, the mood, the vision, but don’t expect it to have a special place in your heart beside Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
MOOD INDIGO. KENDALL SQUARE THEATER, 1 KENDALL SQUARE, CAMBRIDGE. OPENS FRI 8.8. FOR SHOWTIMES AND TICKET PRICES VISIT LANDMARKTHEATERS.COM