MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS
After a relationship break-up, Elizabeth (Norah Jones) sets out on a journey across America to mend her broken heart, leaving behind some memories, a dream and Jeremy (Jude Law), a soulful new friend who owns a New York Café. Working as a waitress as she travels around, Elizabeth meets and befriends others who have their own problems, including a troubled cop (David Strathairn), his estranged wife (Rachel Weisz) and a down-on-her luck gambler (Natalie Portman) with a score to settle.
Review by Louise Keller:
Wong Kar Wai's visual style with its evocative mood is the mainstay of this lament to love, although its rambling narrative detracts from the film as a whole. Like his films In the Mood for Love and 2046, the storyline always plays second fiddle to the emotion. In this his first English language film, the result is a mix of poetic romantic notions sandwiched in a road movie of sorts. Nora Jones makes an impressive acting debut, but it is Rachel Weisz's cheating wife that leaves her mark. And disappointingly, it is hard to believe in Jude Law's character - from his grating pseudo Manchester accent to his unreal lovelorn behaviour. Despite Wong's abilities to create a sensual and moody environment with lingering cinematography and a stunning music score by Ry Cooder, the film's central relationship fails to gel through its dislocated exploration.
I don't know how to begin, goes the song as Jude Law's Jeremy meets Nora Jones' heart-broken Elizabeth. Jeremy runs a New York diner and remembers people by what they order, not by their name. Jeremy and Elizabeth's conversation about the all-important two portions of pork chops heralds the beginning of a relationship in which they can be honest. The film's first 20 minutes are my favourites, in which Wong imbues the scenes with moody tenderness. 'I need someone to talk to,' she tells him and the relevance of blueberry pie and the film's title become apparent.
Everything changes as Elizabeth begins her road trip headed for Memphis and begins scribbling Dear Jeremy postcards. Music plays a key role and many scenes are given a song with which to identify them. 'Try a Little Tenderness' is ironically the song heralding Rachel Weisz's dramatic entrance in a late night bar. And there is nothing tender about her as she confronts her distressed ex-husband (David Strathairn). Elizabeth's involvement then turns to Natalie Portman's thrill-seeking gambler before her road trip comes to its end. Like the blueberry pie that nobody wants, there's something that keeps us at arms length from this romantic drama. There's plenty to recommend it, but somehow we are pushed away.
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MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS (M)
(France/Hong Kong/China, 2007)
CAST: Norah Jones, Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman, Chan Marshall
PRODUCER: Jacky Pang, Yee Wah
DIRECTOR: Wong Kar Wai
SCRIPT: Wong Kar Wai, Lawrence Block (Story by Wong Kar Wai)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Darius Khondji
EDITOR: William Chang Suk Ping
MUSIC: Ry Cooper
PRODUCTION DESIGN: William Chang Suk Ping
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne: August 28, 2008; Sydney: September 11, 2008
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.