There are some things that make My Blueberry Nights worth a look. Firstly, and a bit surprisingly, is the colour. Every frame is saturated by the deep reds and intense blues you would expect from a painting by an artist that I don't have the knowledge to reference. Suffice to say the film looks absolutely gorgeous. Speaking of absolutely gorgeous (I can't believe I segued into that so well) its Natalie Portman. Anyone who knows me knows I have a bit of a soft spot for the Isreali born actress. That last sentence may be the understatment of the year but I will save my Portman praise for another time.
My Blueberry Nights follows Elizabeth/Lizzie/Beth (Norah Jones) as she journeys across Northern America hoping to forget a love gone wrong. On the way she meets another couple whose love has turned sour in the form of David Strathairn, an alcoholic cop and the wife he wants back, played by Rachel Weisz. Also included is the aforementioned lovely Natalie as a compulsive gambler who has father issues. All these parts work well, but the car don't run.
One problem with the film is the voiceover as letters sent to Jude Law, a cafe owner whose burgeoning relationship with Ms. Jones is the non-sticky glue of the movie. Its pretentious, twoddlesome and even fails as coherent in the last five minutes as its becomes unclear who she is speaking to. This arty approach is also present in the too often used slo-mo. Effective at first, it soon becomes irritating.
It seems unfair to dismiss Wong Kar-Wai's first effort in his unnative tongue. If you asked me to review this film in Czech, it too would be a mess. But, sadly, the faults of this film are universal ones. Big fat universal story ones. Crowbaring two short stories into a film that doesn't have the strength to lift the main leaves a general feeling of emptiness. The acting however is first rate, watching David Strathairn monologue about the addictiveness of compulsion is heartbreaking. While as a whole it misfires, scenes like that make me look forward to the next projects of all involved. Especially Natalie.