Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Blah-berry Night

My Blueberry Nights
Release: 04.04.2008 limited
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 30 minutes

Second-Run Seats ($$) <
> Ma
tinee ($$$)

In her film debut, Norah Jones stars as Elizabeth (a.k.a Beth, Lizzie, Betty), a young woman who learns from local cafe owner Jeremy (Jude Law, The Holiday) that her boyfriend is seeing another woman. Night after night Elizabeth visits the cafe; at first, to sulk and skulk over her man, but eventually to eat blueberry pie and fraternize with Jeremy. Seeking answers, Elizabeth leaves New York for Memphis where she takes up waitressing at a bar and a diner to save for a car. She meets kindred spirits in Arnie (David Strathairn, Blue Car) and Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz, The Shape of Things). Her next serving gig leads her to the Midwest and the wild Leslie (Natalie Portman, Closer) who furthers her quest for answers and an affordable automobile.

Let me start by chiming in on my familiarity with writer-director Wong Kar Wai's work. I have seen three of his previous films: Fallen Angels, In the Mood for Love, and 2046. Without a doubt, In the Mood for Love is my personal favorite and his strongest work. My Blueberry Nights...not so much. Wong Kar Wai has a very stylized direction full of vibrant colors and languid, savory scenes. All those films also revolve around relationships and love, time and distance. But watching My Blueberry Nights was off-putting. I compare Wong and his latest work to Tony Scott, another very stylized director who reached near perfection with the dark and manic Man on Fire only to overindulge, making Domino an incoherent, epileptic seizure. Wong took his palette of slow-motion shots and radiant hues and applied them with a paint roller, resulting in a film that fails to maintain its hold on viewers.

Norah Jones likewise fails to draw you in at every emotional level. Granted, for her first film role, she proves herself far more adept than many other singers-turned-actors (cough Beyonce cough). However, she didn't convince me when stronger emotions were required, leaving this sensitive piece lacking. Singer Cat Power ,a.k.a Chan Marshall, also makes a cameo that is likewise strained. But Jones' other costars all performed admirably. In particular, David Strathairn's sympathetic and unstable Arnie deserves a nod for best performance. The only thing more memorable than the performances is the soundtrack; a hauntingly perfect mood for the film.

Dirty Undies
If you didn't notice, the beautiful pedigree of the cast is worth the price of admission alone and probably is why I nudged this film towards the Matinee rating. Norah Jones just looks adorably soft and scrumptious. Jude Law with his effortless charisma is magnified with a layer of scruffy stubble. I was nearly ready to tap out of the film until Natalie Portman appeared in the final half hour. She literally lights up the screen with her smile, her presence and short fire-like curls of blonde hair. Even Rachel Weisz, whom I don't normally go for, was in an especially sexy way. Take a gander:

(Oh Natalie...)

The Money Shot
My Blueberry Nights is a very vivid and visual emotional journey. It's also an excellent case for when style outweighs the substance of the work. If you find this phenomenal, your head just might explode from elation when you see In the Mood for Love.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. Rachel Wiesz is beautiful...sigh.

    Sadly, I missed this at the theaters. I will have to wait for the DVD.

  2. She does have a great body. I've rarely enjoyed any of her roles. I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority in that opinion though.

  3. Weisz was actually the dealbreaker for me. I managed to stay afloat - barely - until she entered the picture, and then it was totally downhill. This one struck all the wrong chords with me, although I really can't fault anyone who happens to love it (and there are a couple die hard apologists out there).

  4. As I said I'm no fan of Wiesz so I can totally see her grating character clinching a bitter opinion for MBN.

    This is turning into quite the love it/hate it film.