On Saturday night, me and my friend decided to go to Cinémental, Manitoba’s Official Festival of French Language Films. We saw L’Ecume Des Jours (Mood Indigo), a new film from director, Michel Gondry. He directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, one of my favourite movies, so I had high expectations. Gondry is known for surrealism and his artistic flair, which comes out with abundance in this film. Mood Indigo is a busy mess of colour and futuristic devices that were visually stimulating, but difficult to get used to. Most of the film is spent watching the characters frolic and participate in strange behaviour, and it felt as if Gondry was getting carried away. There are eels popping out of sinks, shoes that run off on their own, clothes that bite people, and a pet mouse who is a miniature grown man that runs around.
The main character Colin begins lighthearted, wealthy, and without a care in the world. He has a personal slave, or assistant (his role is unclear) named Nicolas, who takes pride in his work. When Colin is jealous that both Nicolas and his friend Chick have love interests, he decides that it is his time to be swept off his feet. Enter Audrey Tatou, who plays Chloe, a sweet girl who Colin is immediately smitten with. The movie then depicts their whimsical dates and experiences in the strange world they live in. Chloe eventually gets sick, with a ‘water lily in her lung’, and we see how everyone copes with the devastating news. This is perhaps Gondry’s take on cancer? The film begins quite bright and colourful , but the scenes slowly starts to wilt in colour and eventually fade into black and white, as the characters fall deeper into despair. Although, no matter what happens to the characters, it is difficult to care as you can’t relate to much in this film.
I should say that I’m usually open minded and typically like films that are “out-there”, but Mood Indigo provides no context about what is going on. No explanation about what year it is, and there are mysterious people furiously typing on typewriters that is intercut with the film, so the audience is left wondering if they are crafting everything we see? The film has a Tim Burton feel, although the whole experience is a sensory attack and you are unsure if this is artistic genius or if someone spiked your drink.
I couldn’t get past the extreme alternate reality, and it resulted in a significant lack of compassion for the characters. I commend this film on creativity – I can’t tell if everything was built or computerized but artistically, it was beautiful. Everyone I talked to after the film had no idea what to make of it, and overall I think the story lacked in substance.
I recommend checking out Cinémental while the festival is still on. Visit http://www.cinemental.com/accueil_en.html for more info.