FLIX: 'Moon Indigo'
Aug. 6, 2014 at 12:21 p.m.
MOOD INDIGO (2014)
• CAST: Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Omar Sy, Gad Elmaleh
• DIRECTOR: Michel Gondry
• Opens Friday at Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.
From the imagination of Michel Gondry comes this surreal, sui generis and winsome piece of filmmaking.
"Mood Indigo" opens in a large dome filled with stenographers working on assembly lines of vintage typewriters, each person typing one line as the machines whisk by.
It doesn't take long to figure out they're typing the film's narrative.
"Colin was finishing his bath" is followed by French actor Romain Duris sitting in a tub, grabbing a cordless drill and emptying the bath by drilling a hole through the tub and the floor.
A tenant in the apartment below grabs a pot of soil to catch the water, which causes beautiful purple flowers to grow and bloom instantly. Cut to a tiny man in a mouse suit using scissors to make bubbles and a cook pulling burnt-looking food out of the oven and holding it up to a TV screen, where a chef looks at the dish and says, "Another 30 minutes."
You haven't entered the "Twilight Zone," just the wonderful world of Gondry.
Colin (Duris) is a wealthy Parisian bachelor and inventor of the pianocktail - a piano that makes cocktails according to the music being played - who lives with his lawyer and chef, Nicolas, in a luxurious apartment.
At a party, he meets Chloe (Audrey Tautou) and after a whirlwind romance that includes flying above the city in a carnival ride-looking cloud suspended from a crane, they get married.
Things are going great until one day, Chloe faints, and after seeing a doctor (played by Gondry) she is diagnosed with a water lily growing in her lung. The only treatment is to be surrounded by flowers that wilt almost immediately after being placed on Chloe's body.
The treatment bankrupts Colin, and so he hits the streets to look for a job.
The title of the film refers to Duke Ellington's 1930 jazz composition, which is figured prominently in the film based on the novel "L'Ecume des jours" by French author Boris Vian, who was active in the French jazz scene and served as Ellington's liaison in Paris.
After viewing Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "The Science of Sleep," you would be prone to attribute the crazy visuals in the film to the director, but he can only take part of the credit because most of the material is straight out of Vian's novel, which was translated from French to English three times under different titles, including "Froth on the Daydream" and "Foam of the Daze." Some credit should also be given to Terry Gilliam and Pee-wee Herman, whose influences seem to be prevalent in the film.
If you're not grounded in reality, then go with it and jump into Gondry's new fairytale where life is but a dream.
RATING: 31/2 stars
Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Houston Film Critics Society and juror at the Victoria Independent Film Festival. He reviews films every Friday on Hit Radio 104.7 KVIC. Contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org.