More than anything else, the long-delayed French film “Mood Indigo” by Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) captures the sensation of when an ordinary dream transitions into a nightmare. Beginning as a mind-bogglingly surreal romantic comedy and ending as a grim reflection on the triviality of materialism and social class by means of bizarre dark humor, “Mood Indigo” gradually shifts from one movie into another, all while maintaining the same environment and internal logic dictated only by dreams.
At first, this whimsical logic is applied only to goofy situations and circumstances: door buzzers become mechanical bugs that only stop buzzing after being crushed with a shoe; weddings can only take place after the bride and groom are able to defeat another couple in a go-kart race; a button can be pushed to make it rain on one side of a picnic blanket while it’s sunny on the other.
However, the nightmare logic eventually becomes more prevalent, most notably in a scene halfway through, when the humanoid bird MC at a roller rink claims that whoever grabs a dangling ring first will have their last words announced on a loudspeaker. After a minute montage of the protagonists goofing around, half-heartedly attempting to grab the ring, the camera is pulled back to reveal a mosh pit of dead bodies in the center of the rink. A pile up of ring-seeking skaters resulted in the death of hundreds, and the corpses are pushed aside by a Zamboni driven by another humanoid bird.
If anything described in the previous paragraph seems interesting, “Mood Indigo” will be a good fit for you. It’s over two hours of pure dream logic tied together with the loose plot of a formerly wealthy husband working a series of odd jobs to afford medicine to prolong his wife’s unusual disease. It features enough moments of invention and originality to fuel daydreams for months to come. For better or worse, depending on your perspective, there has never been a movie quite like it.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.