Saturday, August 9, 2014

Withering Innocence

On Friday, August 8th, my roommate Rosie and I caught a showing of “Mood Indigo” directed by the French visionary, Mr. Michael Gondry, at the Cineworld Haymarket theater. £13-per-ticket later (ouch), we found ourselves drowning in Gondry’s imaginative, cinematic art. We were introduced to Colin- a naive, posh, exuberant young man living a frivolous lifestyle in his lavish flat in Paris. Having never been burdened by hard work or poor circumstance, Colin remains oblivious and aloof to the struggles and imperfections of the world around him. When suddenly made aware of his loneliness by his two dearest friends and their lovers, Colin becomes possessed with the desire to fall in love. The film chronicles Colin as he discovers Chloe, his vivacious muse and later wife, and the awkward, all-encompassing, irresistible love that they share. However, when Chloe is struck down with a devastating illness, we experience with a close intimacy how Colin’s soundness slowly dissolves into a starving and helpless desperation.

Gondry, most commonly recognized in America for his film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, enjoys experimenting with reality and fantasy, the present and the past, and the literal versus the figurative; themes that remain acutely evident throughout “Mood Indigo”. The movie is filled with simple ironies made into fantastical technologies with a retro twist. The alarm clock, the television, the vinyl music player, and the GPS system in the flying, cloud-like contraption are all retro spins on modern technologies. Everything is given life, attitude and purpose. The alarm clock, for instance, is made nervous and fidgety- always scurrying up and down the walls awaiting to be smashed to turn off. The retro television plays black and white cooking tutorials, but is physically interactive with Nicholas, Colin’s mentor, lawyer and chef, speaking directly with him and extending a hand out to identify proper spices. 

I felt a strong theme of escapism from Gondry, in terms of innocence. Colin is a sheltered man, living a vibrantly colorful lifestyle wedged well in the bounds of his comfort zone. Chloe’s illness is even depicted with the innocence of a children’s book. The spot on her lung is merely a water lily, meant to be wilted by a lack of water, pills that move and buzz around and fresh flowers meant to be laid on her breast. Chloe and Colin experience Chloe’s illness as a figurative analogy. But as the illness becomes more and more severe, you see the painful transition from the figurative to the literal. Nicholas, their friend and mentor, ages nearly a decade in a few short weeks. Their beautiful home, once breathtakingly colorful and sunny, now broods in darkness, mold and filth. Colin find’s himself emptied of money and faith, slipping into a dark psychosis generated by exhaustion and defeat. The film’s color scheme depletes until the movie is played entirely in black and white, ending in Chloe’s untimely death and frugal burial. 

This film was dark, aching, emotional. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Casey Hands

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