Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Blueberry Nights on DVD 7/1

Norah Jones made her acting debut in Wong Kar Wai's My Blueberry Nights and for an actress, she's a pretty good singer. Or so the saying goes. Jones is gorgeous to look at--as is Wong's dreamy tale of broken hearts and fresh starts--but her characterization of Elizabeth, a young woman who sets out on a journey to escape a relationship gone sour, is fairly flat. The camera loves Jones, but she is merely a reflection in the lens--a cipher, a witness and spectator to the events around her rather than an active and willing protagonist. She seems to sleepwalk through the film rather than propel the story forward.

Some of the fault lies in the script which seems to be a fluid, improvisational riff rather than a cohesive and coherent story. Basically, Elizabeth (Jones) suffers the breakdown of her relationship and finds some solace and blueberry pie in the company of a cafe owner named Jeremy(a scruffy but charming Jude Law). In an attempt to escape her broken heart, she travels to Memphis where she comes into contact with an alcoholic cop named Arnie (the always capable David Straitharn) and his estranged young wife Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz who seems to be doing Sue Ellen Ewing impression...). She then moves on to Nevada where she befriends Leslie (engagingly portrayed by Natalie Portman), a professional poker player with a cynical view of life. Eventually she ends up back in New York and into the arms of Jeremy who has patiently waited for her all this time. With such an exceptionally talented supporting cast, it's no wonder Ms. Jones comes off a bit wan in comparison.

The dreamlike quality of the story is emphasized through Wong's use of color and lights--and colored lights. He has a love of neon, reflections in mirrors, distortions through glass, the glow of a train as it passes in the night. The visual beauty along with the languorous soundtrack give the film a moody, atmospheric quality. If you're a fan of Wong Kar Wai's other works such as In the Mood for Love or 2046, you'll appreciate the impressionistic hyper-visual storytelling technique. It's certainly beautiful to look at, but it's more somnambulistic than sensuous and left me feeling detached and disconnected from the story and its characters.

The DVD is available on July 1st and also contains:

  • Making of featurette
  • Q&A interview with Wong Kar Wai
  • Stills
  • Trailers


  1. Thanks. He has a very unique and impressive visual style. I'd love to see a better example of his work. What's your favorite film that he's done?