British cartoonist W Heath Robinson was an inventor of the oddest contraptions. He would have loved Mood Indigo which is full of the sort of mad machinery that he enjoyed creating. In particular he would have liked the Pianocktail, a modified piano that produces different drinks according to the tunes played on its keyboard. Although if the music played is too hot you end up with an omelette.
The entire film – based on Froth on the Daydream by Boris Vian – makes about as much sense as a pianocktail. It creates a world where lung diseases are treated with bouquets of flowers and books can be read by ingesting pills. A human faced mouse shares Colin’s house and interacts with the visitors. Someone appears to live in the fridge. If you hadn’t guessed, it’s a Michel Gondry film.
At its centre Mood Indigo is a love story between Colin and Chloe, played by the French big guns Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou. Chloe falls ill and Colin tries to find a cure. But this tragic tale is dressed up in surreal wackiness. Colin’s shoes have a life of their own, setting off before he is ready. The doorbell keeps turning into an insect and leaving its duties behind. Eels appear from the taps, tables are cleared by pushing everything onto the floor and if there’s food on a plate it’s almost certainly animated.
If you can’t take all this magic then the director’s cut is a long 2 hours 14 minutes. Paris is as beautiful as ever, but the constant whimsical trickery becomes wearing. In the best part of the script Colin’s best friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh) has an amusing obsession with French philosopher Jean-Sol Partre, who speaks various forms of nonsense, sometimes from the bowl of a large pipe. Chick wastes a fortune on books and also a full size mannequin of his hero.
Later the colour drains out of the film. Unfortunately this effect reflects what happens to the viewer’s interest. By the end I had little idea what was going on, and not much interest either. Duris and Tautou are an attractive couple, but Mood Indigo hides their relationship behind tiresome special effects, whilst the plot confuses without being interesting.
Verdict: Bother not.