"The overkill threatens to bludgeon the much-loved book into an over-wrought exercise in style."

With French director Michel Gondry we have come to expect the surreal and the wacky but perhaps not quite in such a heavy dose as he throws at Boris Vian’s post-war literary classic.

The overkill threatens to bludgeon the much-loved book into an over-wrought exercise in style despite the efforts of a zesty cast, which includes Audrey Tautou, Omar Sy and Romain Duris.

Copy picture

At heart, this is a very simple love story between Tautou (Chloé) and Duris (Colin) who meet, get to know each other, marry and live happily – but not quite ever after because she develops a condition that threatens her health. A water lily starts growing in one of Chloe’s lungs, which gives Gondry the chance to insinuate himself into the proceedings as a weird medic.

There’s lots of dancing, bouncing, jumping and flying around - with some scenes, including a set-piece at rather strange ice rink, emerging as truly spectacular. The design ethic, meanwhile, is every bit as a faultless as that used by Wes Anderson in Moonrise Kingdom.

Although Vian's novel L’écume Des Jours (Froth On The Daydream) was originally set in the 1950s, Gondry opts to film contemporary Paris albeit with a distinctly retro feel, some of it viewed from the air, as the main protagonists float about in a cloud-shaped capsule.

Despite its sometimes impressive visuals, they are not quite enough to sustain its overblown 130-minute running time, with Gondry more interested in showing off his technical expertise than reaching to the heart of the matter.

Reviewed on: 29 Jun 2013
Share this with others on...
This dreamlike story of two pairs of lovers, a cook and a kitchen mouse is an adaptation of the cult novel by French writer Boris Vian.
Amazon link

Director: Michel Gondry

Writer: Luc Bossi, based on the novel by Boris Vian

Starring: Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Omar Sy, Michel Gondry

Year: 2013

Runtime: 125 minutes

Country: Belgium

Search database:

Related Articles:

Flower power