Land of the Lovelorn: Wong Kar Wai’s My Blueberry Nights
Along with Alfonso Cuaron and Sofia Coppola, Wong Kar Wai strikes me as one of the best directors working today. With his bright painterly use of color, slow or fast-motion shots, noir night scenes, and Godardian improvisational writing style, Wong runs a risk of letting his techniques overwhelm the story of each new film. When he made Chungking Express (1994), Wong perhaps found the best mix of crime, lovesickness, and neon-lit
With My Blueberry Nights (2007), his first film shot in
In My Blueberry Nights, Elizabeth (an understated Norah Jones) can’t get over the fact that her boyfriend just dumped her in New York City, so she leaves his house key at Jeremy’s (Jude Law’s) café for safekeeping. Jeremy presides over a gorgeously lit little restaurant with the camera’s point of view often looking through neon or colored glass signs. I found it refreshing to see Jude Law humble himself to a relatively minor role after his many overblown vehicles such as Sleuth, and All the King’s Men. I still like Law most in The Talented Mister Ripley, where his role as the rich playboy Dickie best suited his hyperactive (and sometimes just busy) acting style.
Jeremy comforts Elisabeth by serving her blueberry pie in the evenings, and they have symbolic conversations about the “doors closing forever” in relationships. One evening, after Elisabeth passes out on the counter, Jeremy gives her a slightly creepy kiss. Just when he’s getting up the gumption to proclaim his love, Elisabeth decides to light out to points west to learn about herself through waitressing.
Working in a
Fortunately, by the time Elisabeth meanders out to
Wong has made a gorgeous film with Norah Jones’ music playing in the background, but there’s something bizarre about his version of
In the end, My Blueberry Nights works best as an experiment in style--an aesthetic transplant-- but when it comes to its characters I prefer Leslie’s rebellious spark to all of the mythologized heartbreak.