My Blueberry Nights
- Norah Jones as Elizabeth
- Jude Law as Jeremy
- David Strathairn as Arnie
- Rachel Weisz as Sue Lynne
- Natalie Portman as Leslie
A soul-searching journey across America forms the basis of the romantic and strikingly shot My Blueberry Nights, the first film in the English language from Hong Kong film maker Wong Kar-Wai. There may be some flaws, but they can be put aside as you soak up this road movie of a young woman questioning love and herself.
As the movie opens in New York, a young and forlorn woman named Elizabeth has broken up with her boyfriend after discovering he was cheating on her. Stumbling into a local cafe at night, she finds the Mancunian owner Jeremy, who offers a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. After many of these late-night discussions and consuming of blueberry pie, in which Jeremy falls in love with Elizabeth, she leaves on an unexpected journey, but still keeps into touch via postcards. She wants to find something through her travels across America, mainly love and what she should do. Along the way, she encounters many offbeat characters whose own lives are very troubled and filled with drama. In Memphis, where she works a waitress to get the money to continue travelling, she witnesses the ravages of broken love in the case of alcoholic cop Arnie and his estranged wife Sue Lynne, who flaunts the fact she no longer cares for him. Events in this disharmony soon take a tragic turn. Moving onto Nevada, she meets brazen gambler Leslie, who has underlying pain of her own, and makes her a proposition. If Elizabeth stakes Leslie in a poker game which could be top draw, depending on the outcome Elizabeth could have a prized Jaguar to continue her travels and search for herself.
With the talent of Wong Kar-Wai behind the camera, My Blueberry Nights was bound to be a visually stunning movie. And though there are some shortcomings with the script, this is a movie that is all about mood. He uses the human face as a canvas of emotion and this repeats with Elizabeth’s winsome gaze and Jeremy’s longing eyes forming many beautifully constructed parts. As such, America is shown from an outsiders perspective throughout this film because of the director’s influence. The use of obstructing views such as lights, windows and blinds helps compliment the theme of wanting to understand something but not being able to fathom it. Eye popping colour abounds and creates a neon drenched atmosphere of unabashed romanticism and soul-searching among a host of cross-country events and searches. And I can’t think of a film in recent memory that made food look so passionate. As lashings of cream smother a blueberry pie, you can’t help but be sucked in by the romantic dreaminess at play. Occasionally, the languid pace can be a bit tiresome but it can be forgiven for that because of the sheer intoxicating dreamlike effect of My Blueberry Nights. The hypnotic soundtrack of clandestine jazz and soul grooves is an excellent addition to the atmosphere, tinting it with melancholy and the sense that hope could be near.
Musician Norah Jones makes her debut here and does quite a good job. She wisely gives Elizabeth that questioning winsome quality and soul that is required and despite her not being an experienced actress, she does very well in the part of the wanderer searching for meaning. Jude Law is his usual charming self as the affable and good-hearted Jeremy who falls deeply in love with Elizabeth. David Strathairn as the depressed and alcoholic cop Arnie who can’t let his wife go is very moving and you can’t help but feel sorry for the guy. Similarly, Rachel Weisz shows her emotive skills playing Sue Lynne, who parades around like she isn’t bothered but actually does. Both of these two bring emotional qualities to these characters. And rounding out this cast is the wonderful Natalie Portman. Portraying Leslie as a wildly dressed girl who lives for the thrill with bravado and charisma, Portman manages to tap into the deeper hurt behind the brassy shield the character puts up to those around her.
Flaws aside with the script and pace, My Blueberry Nights is still a magical film that is unabashedly romantic and lovely. This is really an underrated movie that I hope people will check out after reading my take on it.