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aka - Ecume Des Jours, L'
France 2013
Directed by
Michel Gondry
94 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
4 stars

Mood Indigo

Synopsis: Colin (Romain Duris) laments that he is not in love. Then he meets Chloe (Audrey Tatou) and the two fall in love. But a lily forms on her lung and Colin must spend all his money to see her made well.

I’m not sure I’m fully qualified to review this film as I’ve only seen the full two hour French version. Subsequent to Mood Indigo being picked up for international distribution roughly half an hour has been cut from it. So I’m somewhat constrained in how I talk about the film since a quarter of the experience I had has been excised. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Maybe it is.

If you’ve never seen a Michel Gondry film, don’t worry, watching Mood Indigo will make up for the omission. Just about every visual quirk he’s ever been known for is on display and it’s a cheerfully intoxicating experience. If you’ve ever wondered why people rhapsodize about the joy of film-making  Mood Indigo should help you understand. There’s pure imagination at work here and the images and scenes created are wonderful, even if sometimes they seem to exist purely to show that such things are possible. Other moments make more sense in retrospect, a visual cue to the changing tone of the film that some people will pick up immediately and others, like me, won’t get for weeks (I really hope the split screen summer/storm picnic scene is in the international version, it’s a smart bit of visual metaphor).

The story, which is adapted from a novel by legendary French poet, novelist, songwriter, jazz trumpeter, and record producer, Boris Vian, who died in 1959 at the age of 39, is, I think, a parody of existential thought. Colin’s friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh), is a man hopelessly addicted to the writings of Jean Sol Patre (about as obvious a reference as you can get) and steals from Colin to pay for more. His girlfriend eventually tracks down Patre to kill him for the effect he’s had on Chick and his life. Colin’s life is also ruined, as he sacrifices everything to save Chloe, but there’s no happy ending there either. The slow drum into misery and death feels like a definite comment on the sense of  hopelessness that existentialism is often parodied as inducing.

I don’t know what effect the missing thirty minutes will have on the experience, but I do know I really enjoyed what turned out to be a thoroughly depressing experience that was still filled with cinematic wonder. But if, after watching it, you have no idea who Jetzus is, seek out the original French cut. That scene is just gold.




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