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'Mood Indigo' review: Whimsical overload

Mood Indigo


"Mood Indigo" opens today theatrically in Houston at the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park movie theater.

Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris in "Mood Indigo."
Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris in "Mood Indigo."Photo courtesy of Drafthouse Films, used with permission.
The official US poster for "Mood Indigo."
The official US poster for "Mood Indigo."Photo courtesy of Drafthouse Films, used with permission.

Writer, director, and flamboyant filmmaker Michel Gondry has given the world some of the most imaginative, heartbreaking, and downright outrageous stories to ever be put to film. Gondry's works are typically wondrous journeys featuring vivid creativity, some sort of impressive stop-motion animation, and a story that more often than not revolves around tragedy; usually of the romantic variety. "Mood Indigo" is a perfect example of how too much Michel Gondry can be a not so satisfying thing.

Colin (Romain Duris) is an innovative bachelor. His pianocktail, that's a piano that makes alcoholic drinks based on what the musician plays and how hard he or she presses the keys, is his latest invention while Colin's inventive nature has made him a very rich and very lonely man. His lawyer Nicolas (Omar Sy) passes the time by cooking Colin's meals and attempting (and usually succeeding) to make every fantastic dish he sees on television.

"Mood Indigo" is the story of Colin finding true love, which after a rocky start leads him to Chloe (Audrey Tautou). As the relationship between Colin and Chloe grows, life's unexpected detours get in the way. With marriage in their future and their whole life ahead of them, Chloe suddenly contracts a rare illness that puts her lungs and her life in jeopardy.

You will likely be questioning if you missed something in the opening of "Mood Indigo." While it is inventive and it is constantly breaking the fourth wall, it's just this sensory overload of half-cocked ideas without much explanation. From the stop-motion animated food to the man dressed as a mouse to the rotating typewriter assembly line to Nicolas having a conversation with the cook in the television as he cooks, "Mood Indigo" is this heated cauldron of over-stimulated imagination wrapped around a story so elementarily simple.

There is something to the story of the French filmmaker's latest effort though. Underneath layers and layers of sugar coated whimsy is a story about a man pursuing love, finding it, and then losing it to circumstance. Colin always seems to crash and burn whenever he tries to help Chloe. There's a huge emphasis on the strings of fate. Certain things in life are set in stone and we are unable to change them no matter how hard we try; it's inevitable.

The meanings of sayings and phrases is taken to a universally literal sense in the film; a complicated schedule is sifted through on a Rubik's Cube, oven baked finger foods are served in tiny ovens, a first date takes place on a cloud ride that defines the "cloud nine" high one would experience in that situation, and aging several years during a stressful experience are just a few examples.

"Mood Indigo" is like the photo album of what one man would put himself through just to keep what he loves the most in life close to him for just a little bit longer. The film is visually bizarre and filled with unusual ideas and weird contraptions, but it's intriguing in not only a cartoonish sense but a hopeless romantic one as well. A never-ending truckload of clever ideas are slapped together confusingly and yet "Mood Indigo" is still able to unravel the drooping strings of your knitted wool innards in familiar yet welcome fashion.