- Rated PG-13
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All photos © Weinstein Co.
’ve long respected Wong Kar-Wai as a filmmaker, but that doesn’t mean I’ve always understood him. In fact, I think I even managed to write a paper on the guy without ever having a complete understanding of his work, but when one movie is so similar to the others, it’s easy to fake it. For most of his career, the Hong Kong director has been obsessed with the subject of love, and while that obsession has resulted in some great films (“Happy Together," “In the Mood for Love"), it’s about time he tried something new. This need for change has been a long time coming, but with the release of “My Blueberry Nights” – the director’s first American film and his weakest yet – it’s more crucial than ever.
The film stars Norah Jones as Elizabeth, a recently dumped New Yorker who finds comfort one night at a local café when its kind-hearted owner (Jude Law) offers her a piece of blueberry pie. Deciding that she needs a change from her current life, Elizabeth embarks on a cross-country scavenger hunt for love. Along the way, she meets an array of colorful characters – including an alcoholic cop (David Strathairn), his sassy ex-wife (Rachel Weisz), and a compulsive, high-stakes gambler (Natalie Portman) – with their own life lessons to bestow upon her. What Elizabeth doesn’t realize, however, is that in searching for love, she’s left behind the one man capable of giving her exactly what she wants.
“My Blueberry Nights” isn’t even remotely as romantic as Wong Kar-Wai’s other films, and that’s its major downfall. True, the final kiss between Jones and Law is staged so perfectly that it might seem worth the wait, but it isn’t. When you tear apart your two leads for a majority of the movie, no amount of indie star power or slow-motion cinematography can serve as a substitute, and there’s plenty of both swirling around the final product. It just feels artsy for the hell of it, and not because it’s necessary for setting a certain mood, but because that’s what the director’s other films look like, and so he might as well follow suit. Unfortunately, longtime collaborator Christopher Doyle is absent from this production, and it shows.
Composed like “Chungking Express,” where different segments are compiled to tell one story, “My Blueberry Nights” would have worked better as a series of shorts, because the pieces never really add up to the whole. Jones’ character essentially plays narrator to a series of short stories involving the different people she meets on her journey, and as such, it’s difficult to invest in any one of them. The whole concept is a little too voyeuristic for my taste, and though the film is just as visually attractive as Wong’s other movies, there’s nothing here that you couldn’t find in one of his better films. It’s a lot like the blueberry pie on which the title is based. “My Blueberry Nights” isn’t necessarily bad, and some people might even prefer it, but there’s no point in watching the film when there are far better options available.
Single-Disc DVD Review:
Those looking for a little more insight into “My Blueberry Nights” might just find it in the included making-of featurette and Q&A with director Wong Kar Wai, but you’re more likely to find reasons as to why the movie wasn’t a success. Also included are still galleries of location scouting and production, as well as the theatrical trailer.