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In a surreal Paris, Colin (Duris) is a wealthy bachelor whose hobbies include developing his pianocktail (a cocktail-making piano) and devouring otherworldly dishes prepared by his trusty chef (Omar Sy). At a party, Colin meets Chloé (Tatou) and, before they know it, they're plunging headfirst into a rapturous romance. Their courtship is tested when an unusual illness plagues Chloé; a water lily begins to grow in her lungs. To save her, Colin discovers the only cure is to surround Chloé with a never-ending supply of fresh flowers. (Adapted from the Drafthouse Films synopsis)

 Mood Indigo
Michel Gondry's movies have always had their quirky elements. In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind he used a lot of surreal touches that served the dream setting well. In his follow up, Science of Sleep, he used stop motion and assortments of knick knacks to show the main characters imaginative daydreaming. In his latest, Mood Indigo, all of the characters seem to be inhabiting one of Gondry's dreams. It is the kind of world where a man can mix cocktails by playing a piano. Music can change the shape of the room and cars are transparent. Even the dirt on the window is alive and crawling. These touches of whimsy are packed into nearly every frame. Gondry uses the entire movie as a playground for his sight gags and absurd ideas. On one hand many of these ideas are hilarious and awesome looking, but unfortunately they are so frequent and the focus is so often placed solely on these gags that everything else in the film suffocates as result. The central and often dramatic story of Chloé and Colin feels secondary to Gondry's playground time.

When we meet Colin he is living in what looks like a train car above the city with his chef (played by a very likeable Omar Sy). When he finds out his chef and his friend have found romance, he also wants someone to be with. At a party he is introduced to Chloé, and after getting over some initial self doubts, the two hit it off. This dizzying new romance is the only where Gondry's crafty ideas feel like they fit in. It makes sense for two new lovers to be lost in their own adventurous world with one another, but even these scenes can't distinguish themselves when the whole movie is packed with this much whimsy. Imagine a friend trying to tell you he's dying but he can't resist showing off prop gags and novelty items while doing so, and you'll have a picture of just how awkwardly tone is handled here. Ultimately Gondy's visual tricks become too much of an emotional barrier for everything else in the story. As the movie winds down into a darker and more serious direction, the story becomes about Colin taking up various odd jobs and spending his fortune in an effort to save Chloé from her illness. But even in these scenes the quirkiness remains firmly in place and it kept me beyond arms length from the characters and their plight. Had Gondry treated Colin and Chloé more like actual characters and less like subjects for his filmmaking experiments, this could've been avoided. I would much rather see Gondry apply these imaginative skills toward a full on absurd comedy than a tragic romance story.

 Mood Indigo

Video


This 1080p transfer from Cinedigm and Drafthouse Films does a good job of capturing the visual splendor of Mood Indigo. Though I wasn't happy with the way Gondry's visuals stomped out everything else in the movie, there's no denying that the visuals look awesome. There's tons of colorful and vibrant scenes, like a segment where the couple switches on a rainbow setting in their car, or a scene where Colin visits a florist and shuffles through rows of flowers that sprout up between one another in an awesome kaleidoscopic fashion. It was shot on the Red Epic so detail is clean and crisp, allowing you to see all the handmade touches of the sets and stop animation. Digital noise and some minor pixellation show up in the murkier scenes, like an underwater wedding scene or a foggy exterior during the movies drearier chapters. These faults are pretty minor overall. The back of the box erroneously lists the aspect ratio as 2.35:1, but the transfer is actually in the proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

Audio


Drafthouse Films have consistently had forced subtitles on their foreign film releases, and Mood Indigo is no different. The english subtitles are part of the actual image and cannot be turned off. The back of the box also erroneously lists the soundtrack as a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but there is only a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track on the disc. These gripes aside, the audio mix on the disc actually sounds great. The soundtrack is the highlight, with music from Duke Ellington, Ray Shanklin, The Lumineers and many others. The soundtrack does more to convey mood than anything else on the screen and sounds really nice dispersed through the surround channels. Dialogue isn't a big focus of the movie, but it's all properly levelled and easy to distinguish. Rear channels are used rather frequently for background noise and add to the sometimes chaotic nature of a scene.

 Mood Indigo

Extras


For the purposes of this review I only watched the 94-minute American theatrical cut of the film, but this Blu-ray also includes the 131-minute French extended cut on a separate disc for those interested. Both are official cuts that Gondry was involved in. The extras below are all included on the theatrical disc. The extended disc only includes trailers for a handful of Drafthouse Films releases.

Extras kick off with a series of brief featurettes covering many facets of the production. Most of the titles are self explanatory. Things kick off with Inside the Mind of Michel Gondry (HD, 09:35), which explores the chaotic style of Gondry's work through interview segments with the actors and other people who worked on the film. There's also Set Creation (HD, 08:44), Costumes (HD, 05:03), and About the Novel (HD, 05:59).

 Mood Indigo
The format changes for From the Film to the Book (HD, 22:08). The official title of this segment that shows when you click play is "Film to Novel: Looking back at selections from Mood Indigo". At first I thought this would be a demonstration of how certain scenes from the book were translated to the movie, but it seems more like a thrown together collection of footage from the set surrounding certain gags in the movie. There's no real structure or purpose to it, but there's some cool behind-the-scenes stuff here. Behind Michel Gondry (HD, 40:15) is a short film from Charlotte Pouch that quietly observes Gondry as he prepares and creates the film. It functions somewhat as production diary and a look at Gondry's modus operandi behind the camera.

Next up is Animated Letter From Michel to Audrey (HD, 01:50). This is my favorite extra on the disc. It's an animated message Gondry made to ask Audrey to be in the movie. It's inventive and disturbing, and not unlike something you'd find in a David Lynch short. There's five Deleted Scenes (HD, 08:07) for those that want a little extra movie. They contain the same quirky energy of the final cut so fans will want to check these out. Last of all is a Theatrical Trailer (HD, 01:55).

 Mood Indigo

Overall


Mood Indigo features an insane amount of Michel Gondry's inventive visual style, but I found the whimsy far too excessive here, often distracting and distancing me from the story he tries to tell. Fans have a great Blu-ray package to look forward to with solid video and audio. This release has both cuts of the film and there are also a large amount of extras to dig into.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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