Movie Review: “Mood Indigo” Suffers From Excessive Surrealism


Review by James McDonald

Wealthy, inventive bachelor Colin endeavors to find a cure for his lover Chloe after she’s diagnosed with an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs.

Some movies are just plain weird and can be laborious to sit through. I have tried to watch all of Terry Gilliam’s movies and for the most part, I barely make it through. It’s not that he is a bad filmmaker, rather, he is an acquired taste. And there are other filmmakers out there that are in the same league as Mr. Gilliam: Jim Jarmusch, David Lynch, Alex Cox, John Waters and Alejandro Jodorowsky to name but a few. They have all made movies that cause you to scratch your head and exclaim loudly WTF? In the case of “Mood Indigo”, I feel that director Michel Gondry, deliberately made a weird, surreal, hallucinatory film, loosely camouflaged as the quintessential love story.

And, believe it or not, there is a story to be found. Colin (Romain Duris) is a wealthy bachelor who lives in Paris. He has a personal chef/driver/friend in Nicolas (Omar Sy) and his best friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh) frequents his place often. Chick is going out with a new girl, the beautiful Alise (Aïssa Maïga) and when Colin finds out, he gets very upset. Apparently, Colin, in his mid-thirties, feels that life is slipping him by and he is desperate to find ‘the one’. Chick invites him and Nicolas to a party where he meets Chloé (Audrey Tautou), a captivating and charming woman who has no time for small talk.

After a brief but whirlwind courtship, they get married and life couldn’t be better. That is of course, until the doctors find a water lily growing inside one of her lungs. After a surgical procedure that successfully removes the flower, things gradually come back to normal but shortly thereafter, Chloé’s remaining lung becomes infected and it’s not long until Colin’s entire world comes crashing down around him. The movie incorporates eccentric and outlandish visuals to help propel the story along. As Nicolas is preparing a meal for Colin and Chick, part of the feast is an eel, which quickly thrusts its way throughout the kitchen and alternates between the kitchen’s many faucets.

Foods pulsate and undulate on their plates and when someone rings the doorbell, a creeping door buzzer responds by running rampant throughout the apartment until someone puts an end to its unpleasant commotion. Gondry is a filmmaker who is, to say the least, very unpredictable. Even his Hollywood fare like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet and “The Green Hornet” with Seth Rogen, have moments of pure Gondry. However, with those movies aimed at more mainstream audiences, he obviously had to relinquish a certain amount of control but when he’s making his own movies, all bets are off as to what he will concoct next.

While there are some visually pleasing set pieces throughout the movie, it is very hard to connect with the central characters. We are so taken aback by the overly-illustrated approach that it commandeers your attention away from what little story there is, and by the time the movie is over, you realize that it was a case of style over substance and that the characters and their plight were always secondary and in a love story, that is a big no-no.

In select theaters now

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James McDonald
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