Mood Indigo (L’Écume Des Jours) (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/02/2014

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Breathtakingly imaginative and beautifully designed, this is an engaging, funny and ultimately moving love story, though the non-stop visual invention and effects work are exhausting to watch.

What's it all about?
Directed by Michel Gondry and adapted from the 1947 cult novel Froth on the Daydream by Boris Vian, Mood Indigo (L'écume des Jours, original title fans) stars Romain Duris as Colin, a wealthy inventor who shares a Parisian rooftop apartment with his live-in lawyer/cook Nicolas (Omar Sy) and hangs about with his best friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh), who, in turn, is obsessed with the writings of intellectual guru Jean-Sol Partre (geddit?). When Chick announces that he has fallen in love with Nicolas' cousin Alise (Aissa Maiga), Colin declares that he wants to fall in love too and promptly does so, when he meets the beautiful Chloe (Audrey Tautou) at a party and they dance the biglemoi, a dance involving elongated limbs.

After a whirlwind romance during which they take a Cloud Tour of Paris (a wonderful sequence), Colin and Chloe are married. However, when Chloe contracts a mystery illness and is diagnosed with a water lily growing in her lung, the only remedy is for fresh flowers to be rubbed into her chest every day, so Colin finds himself approaching bankruptcy as he attempts to cure her.

The Good
From the opening sequence of the film, Gondry packs in a breathtaking amount of visual effects work that includes: papier-mache eels in the taps, a table on roller-skates, food that moves, stop-motion doorbells that scuttle down the walls, shoes that run away, a tiny man in a mouse costume that lives in the walls and has his own car, and Colin's signature invention, the pianocktail, a piano that makes cocktails according to the tone of the music played. This level of invention continues at the same pace throughout the film and is initially both bewildering and exhausting - as such, your reaction to it will largely determine your enjoyment of the film.

Duris and Tautou make a charming screen couple, although they have to work quite hard to compete against the visual wizardry in every scene. There's also strong comic support from Sy and Elmaleh and the rapid-fire script is packed with great gags and is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, particularly in the first half.

The Great
The plot of the film is essentially Love Story (boy meets girl, girl falls terminally ill), only filtered through the twin bonkers sensibilities of Gondry and Vian. The clue is in the title: like with the pianocktail, everything within the film reflects the mood of the narrative, so the bright colours and madcap invention gradually give way to grimy, gloomy interiors, broken objects and dulled cinematography so that the final scenes are essentially in black and white as the shadow of death looms.

Worth seeing?
Mood Indigo is Gondry at his most Gondry-esque: this is a dazzlingly inventive romantic tragedy with breath-taking effects work and charming performances, though it won't be to everyone's tastes.

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Content updated: 20/09/2018 06:32

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