Watching a film by Wong Kar-wai is like immersing your body in the film stock that passed in front of the camera lens. It’s a beautiful, mesmerizing and oddly familiar experience enjoying a Kar-wai movie, and it just got better. Here’s why. Now you don’t have to shift your eyes from focusing on the English subtitles to the images. With the way some of his rapid-fire edits, and drawn out, partially obscured compositions are to be expected, I usually go into a Kar-wai film knowing I’ll see it again, just so I can refocus.
My Blueberry Nights is his foray into English-language features and not only that but he’s got a not-so-usual independent-style cast lined up. Jude Law, Natalie Portman are the obvious odd ones out, but in sharp contrast to what you’d expect, they do equally excellent in filling and fleshing out their individual roles for this type of offbeat fare. In direct opposition to what I would’ve guessed, it’s the role that Rachel Weisz plays of a cheating wife, separated from her alcoholic, policeman husband that is the worst acted performance in the film. It’s at times unbearable. Such a superb indie actress I’m surprised at the performance she puts in for Kar-wai. Maybe it was taking direction under a language barrier, maybe it was just his free-wheeling style, but something was not working for Weisz in this film.
Weisz aside, My Blueberry Nights is worth a viewing if you are looking for a compelling, unconventional drama. If you are a fan of Kar-wai though and have been following his films for some time now, you’ve no doubt already seen this movie in one of his Chinese versions. Kar-wai has openly stated that he tends to re-use, return to or re-work past stories, films or characters and Blueberry is no exception.
One of the most endearing things about Blueberry besides its lush cinematography and amazing score (cameo by Cat Power!), is the debut performance of one Norah Jones. She’s a pitch perfect doll of an introvert who only comes out of her shell in short bursts of dialogue which reveal the important back stories of all of the other characters throughout the film. The structure of the film using her and Jude Law as connection-longing night owls is a great set up for the cyclical nature of finding oneself; something that is paired well with good music, Americana, desperately lost characters and blueberry pie.