For those of you missing a little magic in your lives, get ready for Mood Indigo, a fantastically surreal romcom from Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
Adapted from Boris Vian’s 1947 novel, L’Écume des jours, literally translated as “Froth on the Daydream” but here named after a Duke Ellington song, (since the film features so much of his jazz music), this film will transport you to back to a time when your imagination was free to run wild.
Colin (Roman Duris) is a wealthy young man in search for love. He lives in Paris with his manservant Nicholas (The Untouchable’s Omar Sy) and invents things for fun, like a “pianocktail” – a piano/liquour cabinet, that mixes cocktails according to the song that’s played on it. He meets Chloe (Audrey Tautou) at a dog’s birthday party and they fall madly in love with each other. They get married, but things turn disastrously wrong when Chloe becomes sick, and they find out that a water lily is growing inside her.
Such incredible attention to detail is spent on each tiny aspect of the film that it’s information overload 30 minutes in. For example, as Nicholas cooks in the kitchen, a little man dressed as a mouse is under the floorboards, in a kitchen exactly the same as his, dancing with beams of sunlight that have turned into string. When the doorbell rings, it crawls off the wall and across the floor like a giant beetle, and when Colin goes to put on his shoes, they run away from him and dance about by themselves. Gondry presents a fantasy world where anything is possible and everything (including inanimate objects) is alive and in motion.
It’s beautiful and exciting and the kind of filmmaking we don’t often get the pleasure to see. Although its surreal effects can be overwhelming at times and can make the storyline difficult to follow, it’s an inspiring film full of sweet and funny moments. Tautou plays her Amelie-esque Manic Pixie Dream Girl well (although she’s now 37) and Duris, now the go-to French leading man (Populaire, Heartbreaker) is adorable as her husband. Also look out for director Michel Gondry’s cameo as the doctor that diagnoses Chloe’s flower-growth sickness.
With the stylish flair of this year’s Grand Budapest Hotel and the ingenious gadgetry of a Terry Gilliam film, Mood Indigo has enough randomness to satisfy filmgoers for the rest of the summer.
Mood Indigo will be released in UK cinemas August 1.