Mood Indigo

Movie Review #829: ‘Mood Indigo’ is Michel Gondry’s Magical Mystery Tour.

★★★
By Alexander Diminiano

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Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Rated NR (contains brief drug use, mild sexual content)
131 minutes

Editor’s Note: This is a review of the international cut, which I bought on DVD in France a few months ago. The USA cut, now in limited release, is 37 minutes shorter.

“Mood Indigo” has a 55% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it frightens me that so many critics are unable to have fun with a movie. This is a movie that makes absolutely no sense but has a lot of fun with its goings-about. Its imaginative visuals constantly reminds us of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, and while this isn’t a children’s movie, the upbeat, childlike attitude makes it a light, fast-paced delight.

There’s not a moment in “Mood Indigo” that doesn’t indulge in its whimsy little fantasy. It makes us wonder just how much LSD director Michel Gondry used in order to direct this movie; on a scale of sane to Magical Mystery Tour, the movie is much closer to the latter. The complete lack of CGI seems to increase the movie’s flashiness. In fact, any special effects (and there are quite a lot of them) are produced using stop-motion–a carefree choice makes this lighthearted movie feel all the more joyous.

The music in “Mood Indigo” is irresistible. The main star of the soundtrack is Duke Ellington, particularly his famous rendition of the jazz standard “Chloe”. The record features unmistakably in a scene that portrays the film’s fantastical atmosphere more cleverly than any other scene I can recall in the film. In this scene, Omar Sy puts the “Chloe” LP on a seemingly normal record player, and all of a sudden, several screens light up in the background, depicting Ellington and his orchestra from several different angles playing the song.

“Mood Indigo” takes its title from another Ellington single, and it perfectly describes the oddly inviting nature of this film. Though it’s the piece “Chloe” that occurs more prominently in the film. The protagonist, in fact, is named Chloé. She’s played by Audrey Tautou, who has not lost any bit of her youngish charm since her breakthrough in 2001’s “Amélie”. Just as much fun is Omar Sy’s performance in the role of Nicolas. While not so unforgettable as he was in 2013’s “The Intouchables”, he really takes on this role with the same upbeat spirit.

In “Mood Indigo”, Chloé falls in love with a man (Romain Duris), and discovers almost immediately that a flower is growing in her lungs. Though the plot doesn’t come to fruition for a whole hour. Ironically, everything is highly engrossing as Michel Gondry spends an entire half the movie simply introducing us to the fantasies that wrap the world of his nouvelle pièce. It’s once the story is finally introduced that the movie begins to slow down a little. I would imagine that this would be less of a problem in the USA’s cut of the film, seeing how much shorter it is than the international.

“Mood Indigo” is a bombastic movie, but it’s bombastic fun. It’s not a masterpiece. It’s just an enjoyable little movie.

A word to the critics who have tried and label this “nonsense” as if “nonsense” is always a bad thing: The least you could do is try and enjoy your job. “Mood Indigo” is an entertaining movie. You just have to, to pull from another floppy but highly enjoyable film, give yourself over to absolute pleasure. (Er, not that kind…)

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