My Blueberry Nights
Year of release: 2007
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Producers: Wong Kar-Wai
Writers: Wong Kar-Wai, Lawrence Block
Cinematography: Darius Khondji
Editing: William Chang
Music: Ry Cooder
Stars: Norah Jones, Jude Law, Chad Davis, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, David Strathairn, Frankie Faison
Rated PG-13 for language
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Wong Kar-Wai's English-language debut, My Blueberry Nights, has all of his usual elements, namely beautifully photographed characters languishing in a sea of miasma smoking enough cigarettes to give Joe Camel cancer. But strangely, it all feels clumsy, out of place, and ultimately uninsipiring.
Like most of Wong's other films, My Blueberry Nights centers on relationships. In this case, it's the ones that Elizabeth (Norah Jones) has with her ex, and a possible new beau, Jeremy (Jude Law). Dealing with the men in her life throws Elizabeth into a funk, and so she sets upon a cross-country trip, where she meets up with a varied crew of characters, including an alcoholic cop (David Strathairn) and a gambler whose luck has run out (Natalie Portman), all of whom are dealing with their own relationship problems.
With a film like this that is so character driven, the acting is a major key to success or failure. In that regard, Wong falters a bit in his first English film, as the acting is all over the map. Surprisingly, the problem here isn't Norah Jones, a pop star who does fine work in her debut acting role. Rather, it is some other members of the cast who deliver suspect performances. Natalie Portman is the worst culprit here. Hiding under a bad blonde dye job and gaudy southern accent while resorting to pandering high school drama class level dramatics, her performance is more fitting for a Lifetime movie of the week rather than a cinematic release from an arthouse favorite.
Overall, My Blueberry Nights isn't a terrible movie; it's more of a disappointing one. Fans of Wong Kar-Wai's work will probably still want to check this out, but they should adjust their expectations accordingly. And for those who do not enjoy Wong's filmography aren't likely to find anything here that will change their opinion of the director.