Combustible Celluloid
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With: Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Omar Sy, Aïssa Maïga, Charlotte Le Bon, Philippe Torreton
Written by: Michel Gondry, Luc Bossi, based on a novel by Boris Vian
Directed by: Michel Gondry
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 94
Date: 07/18/2014

Mood Indigo (2014)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Got That Swing

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In a strange, fanciful world where mice help out in the kitchen, food moves by itself, and rainstorms only happen halfway, Colin (Romain Duris) is wealthy and happy. He has a pianocktail (a piano that makes different cocktails based on which notes are played), and he has a trusted and helpful chef, Nicolas (Omar Sy). When Colin's best friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh) begins dating Nicolas' niece, Colin wishes to fall in love too. And so he does, with the charming Chloe (Audrey Tautou). Unfortunately, during their honeymoon, Chloe becomes ill; a water lily begins growing inside her lung and she must be surrounded by fresh flowers to chase it away. Colin must find a job when the hospital bills begin piling up, and things continue to grow bleaker.

The French-born, New York-based director Michel Gondry seems to be attracted to heart-rending romantic stories. In movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, he uses highly stylized and visually inventive methods to underline their purity and even naïveté. But without a solid source, his beautiful doodles also have the effect of feeling ungrounded, of spiraling off somewhere into the universe.

Based on a 1947 novel by Boris Vian, and sprinkled with Duke Ellington music, Mood Indigo has been cut by at least 30 minutes for its American release; it now runs 94 minutes. It seems unlikely that this material could successfully play past two hours without getting tiresome, but the shorter version feels almost cruelly abrupt. Nevertheless, the overall effect is quite potent thanks to the good-natured, unguarded qualities of the characters as well as the fine performances. Die-hard romantics will want to bring tissues.

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