Take a Drink: every time you start to suspect that smiley bastard at Burger King slipped some LSD into your Whopper
Take a Drink: whenever the food moves
Take a Drink: for that mouse. Fuck that mouse.
Take a Drink: for clearing the table
Do a Shot: for the Biglemoi
Do a Shot: if you spot Gondry Hitchcocking
By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
Even though many critics consider Michel Gondry to have been on a bit of a cold streak since 2008’s Be Kind Rewind, I’ve found it hard to really dislike anything he’s made. Yes, even The Green Hornet. His particular whimsical sense of style has even started an entire creative/critical film genre- Sweding, which has yielded some fun results.
How can you not love this?
Mood Indigo tackles the most Michel Gondry-esque source material that’s ever existed, the 1947 French novel L’Ecume des Jours. In it, the idiosyncratic inventor of the pianocktail (a piano that makes cocktails according to the music played on it), Colin (Romain Duris) meets the love of his life, Chloe (Audrey Tautou). At first they are happy, but when she falls ill with an orchid growing in her lungs, he bankrupts himself in an attempt to save her.
I’ve seen one reviewer describe the film as Gondry’s attempt to literalize every feeling Colin undergoes with motion and images, and viewed in that context Mood Indigo is a fascinating attempt. The already incredibly imaginative Gondry goes hogwild, filling the screen with animated gags, one-off visual and wordplay humor, and colorful characters and situations out the wazoo.
The stop-motion animation in particular is cool to see, and the humor often hits. Mia Doi Todd’s song “Spring” is an inspired choice, and acting-wise Tautou is as luminous as ever. I kind of wish Omar Sy and Aissa Maiga had been elevated from supporting to leads though, as the film perks up noticeably whenever they’re onscreen.
Mood Indigo makes The Science of Sleep look like Shoah. It’s too much constant riffing and movement, too much whimsy, too much… style. It’s like eating nothing but peanut butter cheesecake for a week… eventually what you originally loved in small or at least logical doses becomes nauseating. The original European runtime of two-plus hours must have been awful.
It doesn’t help when many of the oddities Gondry saturates the film with are more hellish than whimsical… even, or especially, in the uber-optimistic first half.
It feels almost criminal complaining about having too much of Gondry’s signature style to enjoy, but here’s the thing about it- it’s always been great as seasoning, but is too rich for the main dish. As a complement and contrast to a more grounded plot and setting, like his yet unsurpassed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (or other films that employed similar flourishes, like Amelie or (500) Days of Summer), it’s breathtaking but in Mood Indigo its excess swallows the rest of the film whole, and as hard as poor Audrey Tautou or Omar Sy try to inject some humanity or pathos into this story, they’re no match for the cockroach clock or animated feasts.
I can’t bring myself to go any lower than four beer s for a Michel Gondry joint, but man, Mood Indigo is exhausting. Ultimately it feels like an exercise in weird for the sake of weirdness (or whimsy, if you will). The closest corollary I can think of is Freddie Got Fingered… and that’s not entirely an insult.