Michel Gondry has directed one of my Top Three favorite films of all time; ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. I’m starting to feel like Gondry is a one-hit wonder. I haven’t seen ‘The Science of Sleep’, although the reviews left me cold and I never felt drawn to it. I did see ‘Be Kind Rewind’, which was…interesting. It was fun, but it also felt forgettable. ‘The Green Hornet’ had some sharp moments, but overall it was a thankless film. I never even knew ‘The We and the I’ was made, so I guess I’ll need to check that one out (or will I?), and then we have ‘Mood Indigo’, a film that didn’t get very good reviews but managed to snag my attention with the visual look of the film.
So I was excited to see Gondry excite me again.
While ‘Mood Indigo’ is a stunning visual treat (albeit purposefully tacky in some spots), the film itself is the wrong kind of whimsy and winds up being a completely forgettable (and somewhat draining) experience. It took a near forty minutes for me to even begin to care about this film. The first twenty minutes or so was so intendedly bizarre and pointless that I found myself literally checking out. I didn’t care. It was quirky without purpose and so, in the end, was just silly.
The prose is one that I actually found endearing. I love adult fairytales and I love bizarre, and Gondry had such success with a whimsical adult fairytale before (like, that really is what ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ is) and so I thought the idea of a woman with a flower growing in her lungs and the desperate attempt by her lover to find a cure sounded so…fresh and exciting. Visually, the film is. The sets, the cinematography, the colors and lighting and the musical accompaniments are so exciting…but the movie itself is just a chore.
Romain Duris is pretty awful here, Audrey Tautou (who I loved that one time…you know the time) was just kind of there (she’s so pretty, but you have to give me more than that) and Omar Sy is just kind of hard to watch (awkward), but really, I blame Gondry for doing everything wrong with this premise. The screenplay is just plain bad.
And this is where I’m seeing a trend in Gondry’s missteps. His Oscar winning masterpiece was written by the brilliant Charlie Kaufman (Gondry had story ideas, but Kaufman penned the screenplay). Gondry penned ‘The Science of Sleep’, ‘Be Kind Rewind’, ‘The We and the I’ and he adapted ‘Mood Indigo’. Maybe Gondry’s problem is that he has great ideas and no idea how to craft them in a clever and profound way. His films apart from Kaufman lack a feeling of depth of importance. They lack real substance. They are just there, and when they’re not there, they’re gone.
They don’t linger.