Oscar« nominee* Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain) and Grammy« Award-winning singer Norah Jones star in this "ravishing triumph... [of] pure romantic sensibility" (Armond White, New York Press). Law plays a ... more »big-hearted owner of a small New York diner who tries to soothe Jones' jilted heart with his blueberry pie. But only after going on a year-long cross-country odyssey does she realize love was right at her doorstep all along. Gorgeously filmed by award-winning director Wong Kar Wai (In The Mood For Love) and featuring Oscar« winner** Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) and Oscar« nominees*** Natalie Portman (Closer, Garden State) and David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck), My Blueberry Nights is an optimistic ode to love and "one of the best movies of the year!" (Andrew Sarris, New York Observer).« less
It is a little slow moving and hard to follow at times but it is a great veg out movie.
Except for the Portman character (much too little for the talents of Portman, of which Portman plays brilliantly); the key to this movie is understanding that the main characters (Jones and Law) are very low key and their separate tragedies are relatable.
If people want to see a Star Wars type love story where Obi Wan and Darth Vadar are after Natalie Portman go see the last two Star Wars movies not this movie. If you want a low key love story, this is a decent choice.
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Joven Q. Reviewed on 3/21/2009...
Kind of weird at first ? However when Rachel Weisz showed up it got better and finally Natalie Portman made the movie alive !
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Suzanne B. Reviewed on 2/12/2009...
Kind of slow-moving and boring at first.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Neon Bright Infusion
Luca Graziuso | NYC | 07/18/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There is much in Wong Kar-Wai's first all English production to admire, but the cast, the dialogue, and the translation of Asian aesthetics unto accent-dimmed performances is so pronounced we have no option but to enjoy the movie solely for its artistic merit while lamenting its prosaic shortcomings. The usual antics and brilliance of the director are all deployed to a whimsical effectiveness, if sometimes deliberately indulged. The usual close-ups and askance visual is present frame after frame, with opaque intrusions, slantwise peering, obstructed lavishness, and aided by the diner/pub setting the movie is infused with neon latency. In fact the plot is simple and very bleak. Action hardly ever takes place during the day, save for the occasional interlude which seems to be a way to mark as pronounced the comparative glare that the night offers. At times we have the camera slide its intensity along a bar or a table, stolidly stuck on a fork pricking through a slice of pie, or meandering about the outskirts of a bar, column after column, shadows crawling senselessly through a disorderly tension that seems innocent enough to hide behind the crevices of our visual. Overall the very Asian aesthetic quality of the camerawork tellingly foreshadows a candor that has us become voyeurs more so than spectators. In Asian culture it is best not to invade one's private space and here it is carried out to such beauty that it offers a sense of indiscreet respect. Where the movie falters however is in its casting, of which some are excellent artists used in a middling unfortunate fashion. Jude Law and Natalie Portman are sensational actors but oddly cast in the drama. Their intensity is unique but too forceful for the narrative introspective layover. The graceful Norah Jones is very mediocre. She has promise but the flick rests too much on her inner turmoil to be successful since she cannot be the keystone of the narrative in a way to match the intensity and bravado of her colleagues. The story is very simple. Elizabeth is stuck on her boyfriend whose just broken-up with her. She will have to labor through her incredulousness and inability to let go. The diner's owner, played by Jude Law offers her a shoulder and an ear while terribly straining the poetic attitude of the atmosphere by introducing a dialogue that metaphor driven closes the doors it chances to open. In fact while observing the action from behind window panes or timidly joining the session while tip-toeing about a door left ajar we discover a tenuous delicacy of touch that is as fragile as Norah Jones' performance. David Strathairn, cast as Arnie, the alcoholic policeman who cannot let go of his wife, strikes a rapport of morbid proportions with Lizzie. While on a lovelorn escapade to Memphis, Lizzie nurses her loss and begins to recover, but in the process as she learns to give up, somehow that same sense of absence transfers to Arnie who is separated from a wife who wants nothing to do with him. The perfection of his character study and depth only highlights the misses of the others, including Arnie's estranged wife Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz). Arnie gives up on a night of madness and overglowing anger but determines to commit suicide. Enters Natalie Portman, a southern vixen with a penchant for gambling. The neon-hued camerawork receives added sheen from a trip to Vegas on a brand new Jaguar, only to find out that the every win is also a loss. Ultimately that is the upshot of the narrative which is brightly demented by the braggadocio devil-may care sensibility of Leslie (Natalie Portman). The death of Leslie's father causes a reunion between Lizzie and the diner's proprietor Jeremy, who functions as the jar of sweets everyone is sure with due time Lizzie will find her way to. Time spent through glowing hues that distil an aura of hopeless references and tame performances that jarr all the more because uninspired while beset by the contrasting tenderness of the visual. A movie worth watching, because of the addictive intensity provided by the camerawork of Darius Khondji, but the elegiac tone of a "Chungking Express" or "In the Mood for Love" is affected by the sobering vapidity of a plot that plays with the notion of loss and gain by using a maudlin dialogue and a cloyed, exhausted attempt at allegorizing by way of sappy, overburdened poetics. "
The Untouched Blueberry Pie
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 05/23/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My Blueberry Nights opens in New York within the comfy confines of a small café owned by an expatriate Englishman named Jeremy, Jude Law. While busy taking care of his numerous customers, he receives a phone call from a woman asking him if he remembered a man eating meatloaf, later it becomes evident that it was pork chops and not meatloaf, and soon a pretty, but disheveled woman, Elizabeth, played by Norah Jones, makes an appearance at the café and gives Jeremy a set of keys in case her ex-boyfriend comes back. Each night after that occurrence, Elizabeth returns to the café to see if the keys have been picked up and converse with Jeremy. The two strike up a quick friendship and eat the café's leftovers each night. Some things like cheesecake are completely gone each day, some things like chocolate mousse are mostly gone each day, and there is always an untouched blueberry pie because it is left unwanted. It is this pie that Elizabeth eats every night and after a few weeks, she heads on an impromptu road trip.
During her travels, Elizabeth meets a wide assortment of interesting characters. In Tennessee she meets Arnie Copeland, a kind-hearted, but alcoholic policeman who is a patron at both the diner and bar she works at. While drinking to soothe his broken heart, Arnie becomes friends with the much younger Elizabeth and she learns of his wife Sue Lynne who left him. Things seem moderately stable for Arnie, at least within the haze of alcohol, until, one night, when Sue Lynne comes into the bar with another man. After Tennessee, Elizabeth heads west to the land of gamblers where she meets a blonde, southern female gambler named Leslie, Natalie Portman, who loses everything in a match against a fellow with a large forehead sporting a repulsive Hawaiian shirt. Again, Elizabeth becomes friends with her fellow drifter and learns things about others and herself in the process.
Meanwhile, Jeremy, who has been receiving postcards without a return address from Elizabeth, back at the café, writes numerous postcards to Elizabeth, hoping that one of them will reach her, because his heart has opened to her in her absence.
A number of film viewers seemed to be against My Blueberry Nights while it was in the pre-production stage because it was Wong Kar Wai's first film using all non-Asian actors and actresses, as if the aesthetics and beauty found In the Mood for Love and Chungking Express could not be translated over from Asian actors to non-Asian actors. With Taiwanese directors Ang Lee and Hou Hsiao-hsien having done similar endeavors, it stands to reason that Wong would be successful also. While the accents of Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz are a bit overdone and the script does in fact sound like it is coming from a translation at points, the Wong Kar Wai sense of film aesthetic still strongly comes through with his wonderful selection of music, Cat Power's "The Greatest" plays a prominent role in the film, and its sense of loneliness and the beauty and sadness that can be found in loneliness when one is not only alone in body, but in an unfamiliar land. Some say that this is Wong Kar Wai's worst film, but with his worst being better than most, My Blueberry Nights is still a worthy film for the Wong Kar Wai canon, and should not be scoffed at by his "fans" because it stars non-Asian actors and actresses."
Could have been so much; became so little...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 08/08/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I really wanted to like this movie. I remember when the buzz surrounding this movie started flooding in during the beginning of 2007 and everyone was predicting it for all kinds of awards beings that it was Kar Wai Wong's first English language film and the casting of singer songwriter Norah Jones in the lead role was particularly interesting. I waited patiently for the buzz to turn into full-fledged madness but it seemed as if no sooner did the buzz begin then the buzz died and before I knew it the film wasn't even being released for a wide release and I had to wait until it was available on DVD before I could see it. Regardless of the fact that it managed only one nomination (at Cannes mind you) I still really wanted to see this film, and so I did, and now that Cannes nomination baffles me, because `My Blueberry Nights' is very disappointing.
`My Blueberry Nights' gets off to a sour start. In fact for the first twenty minutes or so absolutely nothing happens. We see Elizabeth, a frantic stalker-type ex-girlfriend going in and out of a bakery where she continues to ask the owner Jeremy if he has seen the man she was last in there with and they eat some pie and she watches some surveillance videos and cries and she gives him her keys to give to her ex and then she picks up and leaves town. I know that sounds like a lot, but it's not when you watch it. It's slow moving and rather vapid.
In fact the whole movie feels rather vapid.
There are a lot of critics who talk about Kar Wai Wong's infatuation with lovesickness, but I really didn't gather that here. I saw glimpses of it, sure, but overall the feeling I was left with was more empty than fulfilled. Sadly this was the first Kar Wai Wong film I have seen (but I do have `In the Mood for Love' in my Netflix queue) and I am left a little confused as to why this director is so lauded. I will allow his other films to change my mind though.
The acting is decent for the most part, excels in some areas and falls flat in others. Norah Jones is beyond doubt a phenomenal singer and musician. Her music touches my soul. Her acting is uninspired and bland. There is a part in the film when Faison's character says quite frankly to Weisz's character that he doesn't know what her ex-husband ever saw in her. As he was speaking those words I was thinking the same thing, but about Jones's character, wondering how anyone could find her remotely interesting. Her eyes are dead and she embodies no real emotion. Jude Law is charming across the board; a little obnoxious in some areas but overall strong. David Strathairn is stronger still as the alcoholic police officer Arnie. His subtle outbursts within his own skin are far too good for the movie he inhabits. Rachel Weisz is probably the most entertaining thing about this movie in the way that Thandie Newton is the most entertaining thing about `Crash'; a little uneven but uneven to perfection. Natalie Portman is entertaining yet nothing impressive. Her performance is decent, but doesn't really add anything to her character.
I also found the incessant, repetitive use of Norah Jones's music throughout the beginning portion of the film to be rather unnecessary and annoying.
By the time the film was wrapping up I was wondering what it was all about, what the whole purpose of this exercise was. Sure, Elizabeth was supposed to find herself out on the road with all these people she doesn't understand and eventually realize that Jeremy is the one she wants to be with, but that point could have been delivered a little clearer and a little more interestingly. I just found `My Blueberry Nights' to be a waste of talent and concept and apparently director, unless all of his films are like this and I'm just not intelligent enough to `get' them."
Visual Splendor for a Shuffled Plot and Script
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/04/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Kar Wai Wong is as much a visual artist as a film director and his forté has always been making beautiful, multileveled images on a screen that is trying to see clearly the outlines of character development. Such is the case in his first English language film MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS, a creation he wrote (with Lawrence Block) as well as directed. While the 'story' boasts a cast of fine actors, the emphasis seems less on character delineation than on creating a cinematic stream of consciousness.
A New York Russian bakery/café is operated by immigrant Jeremy (Jude Law) and into this milieu comes the newly jilted Elizabeth (Norah Jones - who also provides much of he sound track singing for the film). She leaves her boyfriend's keys with Jeremy as a sign of resignation but continues to nightly check to see if her ex-boyfriend has shown up to claim them. This is the premise for the formation of a bond between Jeremy and Elizabeth, but without solidifying that bond, Elizabeth runs off to greener pastures. She settles in Tennessee where she finds work as both a waitress and a bar maid and meets the down and out alcoholic policeman Arlo (David Strathairn) who pines away for his tacky, gallivanting wife Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz). Leaving that story piece unresolved, Elizabeth then moves to Las Vegas where she becomes friends with a young, loser gambler Leslie (Natalie Portman) who manages to waste Elizabeth's savings for a car on yet another misjudged gambling night. Through this cavalcade of losers Elizabeth continues to write postcards to Jeremy and the ending is blatantly predictable.
There are some moments of memorable dialog: 'Sometimes, even if you have the keys those doors still can't be opened. Can they? ' 'Even if the door is open, the person you're looking for may not be there'. But for the most part this is a visual feast for those who love Kar Wai Wong's genre. The plot is thin as is the dialogue and the actors work to make the most of the outlines of conversation that they embellish with their own spontaneous words. If it feels improvised to the viewer then the viewer has entered the realm of Kar Wai Wong. This is a film for art film lovers - it is very beautiful to watch! Grady Harp, July 08"
Zaie G | Kuala Lumpur | 05/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie offers you a lot more than your ordinary love story. It gives you an insight into what makes us essentially human. The actors and actresses did a good job portraying their flawed and fragile characters, making you laugh,cry and smile with them. Norah Jones is great as an actress - her character is the most complex of all, yet the most human.You could feel what her character goes through, what she's thinking and feeling. Not bad at all for a first timer. Definitely a movie that I'd watch again and again.