Michel Gondry’s name is among the rarefied few that can serve as an indicator of sophisticated whimsy and off-center delights. Be that in his seriocomic collaboration with Charlie Kaufman with “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” or even working within the Hollywood machine to produce a film adaptation of “The Green Hornet,” he puts an indelible stamp on anything he touches.
Yet even though Gondry made a film that many experts consider among the best of the 21st century, his film “Mood Indigo” hit a bit of snag in the United States. Despite opening in the director’s native country in April 2013, the film took another 15 months to wash up ashore here. And when it did, courtesy of Drafthouse Films, roughly 35 minutes did not make the voyage over.
Normally, I would not complain about a movie getting shorter; many auteur-driven projects could use some fat-trimming. But I would (and likely will) sign up for more of “Mood Indigo.” The film is a playground for the imagination staged within the confines of a beautiful, touching love story. Think of this “F.I.L.M. of the Week” as what might spring from the meeting of the minds between Jacques Tati and the Pixar brain trust.
This is a world where the fancy-free Colin (Romain Duris) can occupy his time trying to make the perfect “pianocktail” – a drink made and refined by how finely he can play the tunes on a grandiose piano set. Where he can float over the city of Paris in a cloud-like Ferris Wheel booth with the girl that catches his eye, Chloé (fittingly played by Audrey Tautou of the charming “Amélie“). As their tragic love story progresses, Gondry never wastes a moment to take our breath away. Virtually every frame is packed with some kind of gadget, gizmo or trick that reminds us of the ingenuity behind the film. Perhaps others could have told this tale of star-crossed lovers, but I remain unconvinced that anyone could make it more of a marvel than Gondry.