Saturday, January 24, 2009

MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS (Wong Kar-wai, 2008, USA)

Elizabeth is running to stand still, frustrated and alone, her empty nights drenched in the neon blue glow of broken hearts and fractured dreams. Jeremy is lost but grounded, mired in the routine of daily life, owner of a small cafĂ©. He desperately hopes that true love will find him; unlike the evening’s blueberry leftovers, an elliptical nexus that becomes a confectious fait accompli. A jar full of keys discarded by jilted lovers remains the last vestige of hope for companionship: a metaphorical phallus that may never again pierce its one specific keyhole, forever dangling unused.

Director Wong Kar-wai tells a sublime human story that happens between the actions as Elizabeth journeys far from her destiny: she finds herself reflected upon the dark visage of colorful strangers. Wong Kar-wai has cannibalized his great film CHUNKING EXPRESS and made the premise more accessible for American audiences; MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS is like the yummy dessert photographs on the menu: it looks like the best piece of pie you’ve ever seen only to discover you’ve been fed a substandard imitation.

Norah Jone’s may have a tearfully soulful singing voice but her performance is corrosively one-dimensional, her only expression one of bewilderment and confusion (though she does have a lovely smile). Fortunately, the supporting cast carries the heavy emotional burden and delivers the goods! David Strathairn steals the film with a bittersweet portrayal of a scorned alcoholic police officer and Natalie Portman is surprisingly adept as a slick gambler. Jude Law imbues Jeremy with a believable depth of static passion, a forlornly passive performance.

The cinematography saturates the narrative with explosive colors or descends into melancholy chiaroscuro: the opening shot is reminiscent of 2046 as the L-train rockets into the abyssal night. Overall, a disappointing film that is high in calories and fat grams but ultimately unfulfilling: you’re still hungry a half-hour later.


1 comment:

smarthotoldlady said...

Oh Dear, Alex,

Are we destined to not like the same movies? I didn't see this as a dumbed down version of Chunking Express. I saw it instead of possibilities for connection and self discovery in America as opposed to the bound up society of Hong Kong.
I do like your insight into the phallic implications of the keys. And, Norah Jones is definitely a weak link with her look of a deer caught in headlights.