Written by Christopher D. Bruce.
“Colin put down his comb and, arming himself with a nail clipper, beveled the corners of his shaded eyelids to give mystery to his gaze. He had to repeat this often because they grew back quickly.”
Michel Gondry’s adaptation of Boris Vian’s novel Foam of the Days revels in the small details, the playful turns of phrase that are studded within the paragraphs of this seminal novel. Boris Vian’s novel is more interested in ideas rather than character progression and plot, much like Douglas Adams with his Hitchhiker series and Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories. These authors were interested in playing with language, creating moods and fun out of disparate ideas being thrown together. I would argue that Alice and Hitchhikers have yet to be adapted successfully to film as the filmmakers have focused too much on dragging what plot and character arcs they could find out of these works and making that the focus of their movie, rather than focusing on what actually makes those stories work and shine.
Michel Gondry is at play here. He has thrown himself into the language of the novel and translated it to film with stop motion, projections, puppets, split frames and the rest of his arsenal of film tricks developed over the years in his music videos. At once bombastic and lyrical, this is a story translated through mood. One scene flows into the next following a dream-like logic. It is this that makes it a hugely successful adaptation, but could also instantly turn so many off.
Mood Indigo follows Colin (Romain Duris), a carefree, financially independent man who is quick to smile and generous to friends. He falls in love with Chloe (Audrey Tautou), whom he marries. Soon after the marriage she falls ill to a flower growing in her lung and Colin, forced to pay for treatments and support his friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh), soon needs to find employment for himself.
This is a beautiful and witty film. The first half is so much fun, full of playful language and stunning visuals. It is joyous in its portrayal of friends, love and carefree days of partying, inventing and flirting. After the marriage, the mood shifts to a fairy tale turned macabre. This film will break your heart by the end.
Michel Gondry has made a polished film that still feels hand crafted. If you want to see a talented filmmaker fully engaged with his material and playing, just joyously, all out playing with film language, then Mood Indigo is for you.
THE REEL SCORE: 9/10