My rating: 8
IMDB rating: 6.5
IMDB link: Mood Indigo
If Wes Anderson made something like the Beatles’ music video for Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, I imagine that it would look something like this movie. This film is the visual accumulation of everything that, to me, is amazing about the indie film industry. There are see-through cars, tables on skates, eels coming through the tap and a small live-in mouse that is almost like Colin’s conciousness.
Underlining all this craziness is one of the main characters, Chick’s, obsession with a philosopher named Jean-Sol Patre, remind you of anyone? Of course, Jean-Paul Satre! The Patre character even has a companion named the Duchess de Bovouard (like Simone de Beauvoir). Chick gets so obsessed with Patre, and I think it is safe to assume he is a symbol of his teachings, the existentialism (within the frame of existentialism, the absurd is not only normal but expected), that he loses all his money and eventually his life.
But the thing I love most about this movie is not only the beautiful initial colour scheme or the off-beat cinematography or the creative overload that is this movie’s core, it is rather the way in which this film deals with sickness and grief.
What do I mean by this? After Colin and Chloe fall in love and their whirlwind romance results in marriage, Chloe is diagnosed with a water lily growing in her lungs. Her symptoms are fainting spells and a terrible cough. After tests the doctor determines that the only possible remedy is to surround Chloe with so much flowers that the lily in her lung will wilt. Isn’t this so similar to everyday life? As soon as someone falls ill, we try to smother the illness by as many presences as possible; by visits and cards and flowers.
The longer Chloe is incapacitated, the more the house starts falling apart. A kind of fungi boards up the windows, the ground is covered in dirt and the money start running out. This is also applicable to everyday life, an illness infects the whole house. People are afraid to enter, and it is almost as if your house is marked and influenced by the internal decay.
Although the sickness clears up, it has already spread to the other lung and Chloe’s death is inevitable. Colin keeps on fighting till the bitter end. His latest job is, strangely enough, delivering bad news to people. He knows that Chloe is unwell, still he is unprepared for the moment his job takes him to his own house for Chloe’s death announcement. This is most certainly true of everyday life, especially when someone is ill for a long time, we expect their death. We sometimes even wish the moment would come sooner so that they could experience some relieve. Still, when the moment finally comes, death is always a surprise and more final than we could ever imagine.
Drained by all the medical bills, Colin can only afford a pauper’s funeral. He fashions the coffin from household items and as the people from the funeral agency come, we can see him suffer because of their nonchalant treatment of the body. When she is eventually merely dumped into the hole, Colin is devastated. We try to make the funeral of our loved ones as special as possible, but in the end it is nothing more than a colourless journey through a darkened forest and ghostly waters, ending in the final lost of someone special.
The colour in this film is quite amazing. It starts out as a feast of different bouquets of the brightest colours, and the more the movie progresses the more the colour is lost. Eventually all colour is lost and the last 30 minutes of the movie is entirely shot in black and white, symbolising both decay (moral and physical) and death.
The film has not received a lot of good reviews. Director Michel Gondry, who is famous for movies like The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind steps into very murky waters with this “whimsy” (rogerebert.com) rendition of the novel by Boris Vian (Froth on the Daydream). If you are a Audrey Tautou fan, you will not be disappointed as she is still one of the most charming faces in cinema. In my opinion, definitely worth the watch as a seminal film.
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