Shafts of light are plucked like harp strings, eels slither in and out of faucets, and a turntable controls the direction of skaters at an ice rink. These are just a few of the many dreamy visions Scotch-taped together by Michel Gondry to make his latest bit of cinematic bricolage. Based on Boris Vian’s odd-fish 1947 novel Froth on the Daydream, Mood Indigo is a movie so stuffed with eccentricity, it rips at least a couple of seams. Romain Duris (L’Auberge Espagnole) plays Colin, a wealthy man whose wife, Chloé (Amélie‘s Audrey Tautou), has contracted an illness that requires her to be constantly surrounded by flowers. There’s also Colin’s best friend and chef Nicolas (Omar Sy), his mooching pal Chick (Gad Elmaleh), and the spoonerized existentialist Jean-Sol Partre (Philippe Torreton). But to be honest, the plot is just a clothesline on which Gondry can hang his colorful scraps.
Running on the same loose logic and construction-paper surrealism as The Science of Sleep, the director’s latest is tactile and alive, a kaleidoscopic spyglass into Gondry’s inventive mind. You can’t go more than three seconds without some stop-motion flight of fancy or trompe l’oeil skittering across the screen. Little of this ever gets tethered to any recognizable human drama, though, so the film ends up having all the weight of a daydream, floating around aimlessly for the majority of its running time. The first half hour or so is classic Gondry, and Duris and Tautou are energetic and adorable. An early scene of them drifting through Paris in a cumulus-shaped flying machine is wondrous. But after a while, all that frivolity starts to collapse under its own weight like a fallen soufflé. C+