Mood Indigo is bitter candy, a heartbreaker that uses sugar as a trap. The director, Michel Gondry, has a brilliant, contradictory brain. He's a swoony pessimist, a big-dreaming romantic who believes in love at first sight but never lets his films end with a kiss. Still, the first half of Mood Indigo is so over-the-top magical that I worried that Gondry's good sense had leapt from the rafters.
Romain Duris plays Colin, a rich bachelor who lives in a mansion with his best friends Chick (Gad Elmaleh) and Nicolas (Omar Sy). He displays only two emotions: delight and hunger. Like a charming narcissist, he believes — rightly, in this case — that the universe exists solely to please him. Everything comes so easily to Colin that we begin to rebel against the film and sniff that perhaps Gondry does have Play-Doh for brains. Yet life — and Gondry — is cruel. Mood Indigo has force-fed us fattening pleasures, and eventually the butcher comes to collect. On Colin and Chloé's honeymoon, a flower spore implants in her lungs. It's a metaphor for cancer, a word the movie won't say, with chemotherapy represented by Colin bankrupting himself to crowd her sick bed with bouquets, which her doctor (Gondry himself, barging in to play a fool) swears will help heal her.
The movie's earlier fantasies feel doubly precious and doubly phony — Gondry's plan all along. For some, the twee-ification of cancer will be a turnoff. But if Colin and Chloé's world were more mundane, just another story about mortals like us, we'd spend the movie judging their choices and telegraphing them practical advice. With reality askew, all we're invited to do is feel their pain.