Luring us once again through the funhouse looking glass and into a handcrafted phantasmagoria, cinemagician Michel Gondry commences the carnivalesque proceedings of Mood Indigo in a retro-futuristic sweatshop. Seated at conveyer belts of typewriters, workers diligently clack away to assemble the love story of Colin (Romain Duris), a carefree Parisian, and Chloé (Audrey Tautou), the object of his chaste desire. Gondry—director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep—makes their romance considerably more vibrant than the monochromatic pages being soullessly churned out. But the film still feels piecemeal, as if Gondry assumes countless fantastical flourishes will coalesce into an affecting narrative. He dizzies the senses with hyperimaginative details: a piano that pours cocktails determined by the notes being played; a dance craze that requires participants to distort their anatomy and grow elongated puppet appendages. Yet these flights of fancy carpet-bomb the film, leaving nearly fatal levels of whimsy in their wake. Not only does Gondry's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach (including a rogue eel in the kitchen sink) desensitize us to spectacle, it leaves us unreceptive to a tragic third act. Perhaps we'd be moved to shed a tear if we hadn't already cried "oncle" an hour earlier. [Critic's Grade: C]
SEE IT: Mood Indigo opens Friday at Living Room Theaters, Hollywood Theatre.