Froth on the Daydream and Mood Indigo: A Seamless Marriage

Michel Gondry’s penchant for the surreal has only increased since his debut, Human Nature, in 2001. While his second, arguably most iconic, feature, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, was written by Charlie Kaufman, his subsequent films have continued to augment in their dreamlike portrayals of romance. Although he has adapted one previous film, The Green Hornet, Gondry’s latest work (and sophomore adaptation–another nod to Kaufman), Mood Indigo, is truly tailor-made for his particular writing and directorial aesthetic.

Book cover for Froth on the Daydream, renamed to Mood Indigo in conjunction with the film
Book cover for Froth on the Daydream, renamed to Mood Indigo in conjunction with the film
Based on Boris Vian’s 1947 novel, Froth on the Daydream, which was re-titled to Mood Indigo in conjunction with the movie’s release, Gondry re-imagines the story even more fantastically. Much like The Science of Sleep, Mood Indigo is a fanciful love story centered around Colin (Romain Duris) and Chloé (Audrey Tautou, resurrected momentarily in the minds of Americans post-Da Vinci Code). Colin, wealthy and unaccustomed to anything other than whimsy and folly, finds himself feeling lonely and melancholic upon discovering his best friend, Chick (Gad Elmaleh), has fallen in love with Colin’s servant, Nicolas’ (Omar Sy), niece, Alise (Aïssa Maïga). Wanting a true love of his own, Colin sets out to meet the girl of his dreams at a party thrown by Isis (Charlotte Le Bon), a socialite type with a similar amount of money.

In keeping with the level of bizarre prior goings-on (e.g. talking mice and a “pianocktail” that plays music and subsequently creates the perfect cocktail afterward), Colin’s legs turn rubbery and immobile when he tries to dance to “Chloé” by Duke Ellington. In spite of his ineptitude, Chloé is enamored by his charms. Colin finds an enticing enough way to get Chloé to go out on a date with him apart from this encounter by inviting her on a divine date that includes a ride in a flying saucer-like device and a stopover at a secluded spot where said flying vehicle captures their first attempt at a kiss. Mimicking Vian’s absurdist writing style, Gondry uses elements of music, cinematography and special effects to convey the chimerical world of Colin and Chloé. It is when their bubble of romance is shattered by Chloé getting a water lily stuck in her lung while honeymooning that Gondry saturates their once bright world with greyness (kind of like how Shakespeare used inclement weather to mirror a character’s more trying moments).
Riding around in a cloud-inspired spaceship
Riding around in a cloud-inspired spaceship
What is so unique about Mood Indigo, in addition to the original story on which it is based, is how amazingly well it pairs with Gondry’s directorial aesthetic. Perhaps not since Tim Burton and Sleepy Hollow has their been a more seamless marriage of literary and filmic styles.

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