My Blueberry Nights
Starbucks over the years have diversified from just coffee into the relaxed, non-committal hipster music they play in all their coffee shops; and if they wanted to move into movie production, My Blueberry Nights would have been the ideal first candidate.
Hell, it even has Norah Jones in it.
But, I get ahead of myself. The piece is the first english language film by Wong Kar-wai, a man well known in his native China and seems to specialize in highly stylized productions, so much that despite each scene being filmed on location, everything looks far too pretty for the dose of Americana it hopes to portray. In furtherance, Kar-wai populates the world with beauties such as Norah Jones, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz and Jude Law.
Law is David, operating a small cafe in New York where Jones’ Elizabeth happens to walk into looking for her never-seen boyfriend who seems to have left her for another woman; considering how highly-strung she is, it’s more than understandable. She returns on a nightly basis in the hopes of her now ex picking up his keys. She hopes to confront him as he continues on with his life, content to ignore her very existence. Not long after initiating a tentative relationship with David, Elizabeth ups and leaves on a road-trip of self discovery. Sadly, the trip seems preempted more by the director’s need to film new locations and characters more than anything else.
Along the way, she encounters a lush of a Southern Belle (Weisz) and a habitual liar and gambler (Portman), who act with the same grit and determination as if this were a viable project.
Ideas and questions are posed constantly but the awkwardness of the dialogue and lack of any overall vision, blunt them so severely that the best analogy for the whole experience would be trying to unlock a door with a fish. Nothing is concrete, meaning that whenever the narrative seems certain to develop, what it tends to lead to is a lot of people staring uncomfortably at each other, everyone waiting for someone else to do something, anything to move the piece along. Jones and Law do their best to be charming but Jones seems to so strongly refute the need for any actual acting, Law comes off as a man hitting on a pleasant corpse.
The music, in part provided by Jones herself, is so leaden and repetitive that Kar-wai betrays the little bit of story that’s about to happen and illustrates how little he connected with the same material that a handful of songs can cover the myriad of emotions he tries to inject into the proceedings.
What was the point of this entire exercise? From three repeat watchings, it would appear more similar to the shallow idea that by bringing a less attractive friend to an event, that you yourself will look better by comparison, because for everything Elizabeth seemed to learn, she came back with the idea that there was nothing wrong with her. In fact, it seems she is simply content in the knowledge that the women she meets are less stable and more damaged than her, something encouraged by the director and cinematographer’s collusion to make it nothing more than that.