Real talk: Michel Gondry’s career is fascinating and also a mess that’s all over the place. And depending on who you are this is either a plus or minus. On one hand, the French filmmaker has been called a visionary on the level of Spike Jonze, but there’s an argument to be made Gondry’s great films are far and few between. A lot of them have plenty of cool concepts in them and not all of them work (“Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind” easily being his best). Gondry also has some clunkers like “The Green Hornet,” and even “Be Kind Rewind” is super uneven (though it has a lot of good stuff too).
But fantastical, wacky and quirky is really only just one reading of Gondry’s career and doesn’t take in the full picture. Gondry’s also very big in the documentary field, and as patchy as something as “The Thorn in the Heart” is (his 2009 doc about his aunt), it’s also his most personal and most deeply felt movie (aside from ‘Spotless Mind’ of course). The point being, Gondry’s career is super eclectic, and people tend to forget for every weird and dreamy “The Science of Sleep,” there’s a more practical and pragmatic doc like “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” and “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?: An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky.” Gondry seems to vacillate between the two lately, but most importantly seems hungry for all kinds of experiences be it magical indies, documentaries, big-budget tentpoles or what have you.
His latest goes back to the fanciful, chimerical world of fantasy romance. It’s a French-language film and stars Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Omar Sy, Aïssa Maïga, and Charlotte Le Bo. It’s a pretty weird one so here’s the synopsis for you to read yourself:
Eminently inventive Michel Gondry finds inspiration from French novelist Boris Vian’s cult novel to provide the foundation for this visionary and romantic love story starring Audrey Tautou (Amélie, Coco Before Chanel) and Romain Duris (The Beat My Heart Skipped). Set in a charmingly surreal Paris, Duris plays wealthy bachelor Colin, whose hobbies include developing his pianocktail (a cocktail-making piano) and devouring otherworldly dishes prepared by his trusty chef Nicolas (Omar Sy, The Untouchables). When Colin learns that his best friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh, The Valet), a fellow acolyte of the philosopher Jean-Sol Partre, has a new American girlfriend, our lonely hero attends a friend’s party in hopes of falling in love himself. He soon meets Chloé (Audrey Tautou) and, before they know it, they’re dancing to Duke Ellington and plunging headfirst into a romance that Gondry rapturously depicts as only he can. Their whirlwind courtship is tested when an unusual illness plagues Chloe; a flower begins to grow in her lungs. To save her, Colin discovers the only cure is to surround Chloe with a never-ending supply of fresh flowers. MOOD INDIGOwas nominated for three 2014 César Awards: Étienne Charry (Best Original Music), Florence Fontaine (Best Costume) and Stéphane Rozenbaum (Best Production Design).
Playlist scribe Jessica Kiang caught this one at an international film festival last year, and while she didn’t love it, there still sounds like there’s enough intriguing elements in it worth watching. Meanwhile, a new U.S. trailer for the film has arrived via its distributor, Drafthouse Films. It’s pretty eccentric, so you’ve been warned. “Mood Indigo” opens July 18th in limited release. Watch the trailer below and check out the new U.S. poster as well.