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L’Ecume des Jours (Mood Indigo) by Michel Gondry

September 15, 2013


Watching Michel Gondry‘s Mood Indigo has renewed my memories of early Mike Tyson fights: a few minutes into the film my only thought was, let’s hope it will be over soon and that I’ll be still alive at the end of it. If you prefer a cinematic metaphor let me say that Gondry here looks like a sort of Terry Gilliam on steroids, he gives you no time to absorb a visual invention but in a matter of seconds he is coming at you with another one, while I can admire the restless creative energy on display here I cannot forget that this is not a commercial, it’s not a short film but a two hours long narrative feature where plot and characters are not spared the brutalizing boxing treatment.


I have not read the book by Boris Vian adapted by Gondry here so I have to rely on second hand sources telling me that the screenplay is quite faithful to the book except for setting the action in Paris rather than the Louisiana swamps imagined by Vian, if you manage to get the story notwithstanding Gondry’s uppercuts and jabs it’s easy to notice that the material contains a lot of potential, it’s a surreal story about love, dehumanizing working places, an avid Catholic church, it’s the portrait of our society in the eyes of a young man – Vian was in his early twenties when he wrote L’Ecume des Jours – and though it was written in 1946 I guess it addresses a lot of concerns which are still relevant in our times. It’s a pity that this book came into the hands of a director who has mistaken a mind numbing deluge of special effects for poetry.

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