My Blueberry Nights (2007) Wong Kar Wai
Production Budget: $10 million
Gross: $1 million
Wong Kar Wai’s first American made movie wasn’t received well by critics. Really, Kar Wai is one of the best directors to come out of Hong Kong in recent years. Now that being said, I think he can be very hit or miss with people. Kar Wai is experimental and sometimes puts visuals and overall mood priority over dramatic narrative resulting in what critics call boring. I think Chungking Express is a wonderful movie that can be enjoyed by anyone and In the Mood For Love is a tragic love story (other movies you might like if you like those are Fallen Angels and Happy Together). I wouldn’t really recommend a movie like 2046 (an unofficial sequel to In the Mood For Love) to anyone but a devoted Kar Wai fan. Unless you know what’s going on and kinda know the director, it will be a tedious meandering ponderous bore fest. Those that do can see where the director is coming from and enjoy it more. Kar Wai is kind of like Tarkovsky where he is more concerned with leaving the audience with a feeling or a mood instead of concerning himself with narrative structure. He wants to share the feeling of what its like to be in love, to have that longing, but the personal and societal problems preventing that love. That all sounds like art house pretentious, beret wearing rambling I know but its interesting.
In the Mood For Love, for example, is about love that develops from an affair. Two couples live in an apartment building. Tony Leung’s character believes his wife is having an affair with his neighbor’s husband and the neighbor’s wife (played by Maggie Cheung) believes the same. The two develop a friendship based on their mutual grief over the situation which a short time later becomes love. But the tension comes when the don’t give into temptation because they don’t want to sink to the same level as their unfaithful counterparts. I think its a great movie.
Anyway, Blueberry Nights. It received a mediocre response from critics for being dull and for poor acting from singer Norah Jones. I will say the movie is not Kar Wai’s best. The movie is about Lizzie (played by Jones) who was recently dumped and finds friendship with a nice diner owner (played by Jude Law) who share pleasantries over blueberry pie. Lizzie then travels across the country and runs into colorful characters before finding out she was really in love with Jude Law. And if you think I spoiled anything, when you see the movie you’ll find I really didn’t. In fact, that’s how its written up on the back of the freaking box.
For all the bitching I heard about Jones’ acting, I really don’t see what the big deal is. Norah Jones isn’t the first singer turned actress in fact its rather commonplace now. And I thought she did a pretty good job with her role despite some questionable writing in her dialog.
The one part I loved about this movie was a subplot starring David Strathairn. He absolutely stole the show as a down on his luck drunk. One REALLY questionable bit of casting was Natalie Portman as an over the top Texan poker player (complete with terrible accent). The movie is more told visually like 2046 and I think that will bore many viewers. I also think that it is one of Kar Wai’s lesser efforts. That being said, I found enough with the Jones/Law love story and the great role by Strathairn to enjoy this movie. It was an alright movie. Now would I recommend it…not necessarily. I would recommend Chungking Express first if you were going to watch this director.