It’s humble pie for all concerned
MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS Directed by Wong Kar-wai. Starring Norah Jones, Jude Law, David Straithairn, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman 12A cert, Cineworld/IFI, Dublin, 95 min
CHOSEN as the opening night film at Cannes last May, My Blueberry Nights proved more insubstantial than an amuse bouche before the festival served up a menu heavy on serious issues. The first Englishlanguage movie from Hong Kong style master Wong Kar-wai, this pretty but pretty slight exercise does not compare with his best work ( Chunking Express, Happy Together, In the Mood for Love).
Singer Norah Jones makes an unremarkable acting debut, suggesting that she shouldn’t give up the day job, as the central character. Elizabeth is a lovelorn young waitress who is as naive as the film itself. Dropped by her boyfriend, she turns up at the New York cafe managed by Jeremy (Jude Law), who is from Manchester and sounds just like Ant or Dec.
This establishment is quite unique in that many of its customers have left their keys there after their relationships have broken up. Only in America, perhaps, but more than likely, only an inane idea that ought to have been scrapped from the script. Jeremy adds that there’s always a complete blueberry pie left over every night, which makes one wonder why the chef doesn’t make one fewer every day.
Elizabeth and Jeremy bond when they both get bloody noses at the same time, as people do, but Wong is in tourist mode and sends her on the road. In Memphis, she gets drawn into the disintegrated marriage of an alcoholic cop (David Straithairn) and his adulterous wife (Rachel Weisz). Iin Nevada, she takes off on a Thelma & Louise- style journey with a young gambling addict (Natalie Portman). Oddly, everywhere she goes Elizabeth is known by a different version of her name – Lizzie, Beth, Betty.
While it features the visual flourishes we have come to expect from Wong, My Blueberry Nights is so simplistic, trite and contrived that one almost feels embarrassed for the actors fed with so much puerile dialogue. This effort is as misguided and tiresome as Lars von Trier’s US-set pictures, but at least they were unintentionally funny.
Bloody Norah: Ms Jones in My Blueberry Nights