Uncharted Territory

March 5, 2008

“My Blueberry Nights” – with added raspberries

Filed under: Film — Tim Joslin @ 5:32 pm

A tad disappointing this one.

It’s clear from the off that there’s something very wrong with Jude Law. His heart just didn’t seem to be in it. Maybe he found out that Wong Kar-wai hadn’t been able to land Clive Owen for the part, or maybe he just didn’t fancy (or even like) his leading lady. There was no chemistry between Jude Law (Jeremy) and Norah Jones (Elizabeth), which was a shame, as a spark between the two was an essential premise of the movie. Instead, Jude seemed to be dreading the inevitable clinch. Or perhaps his awkwardness resulted from his interaction with the director – “My Blueberry Nights” is the first film Wong Kar-wai has made in English.

Norah Jones appeared to deal successfully with the part of Elizabeth, as the role was apparently written as that of an ingenue drifting around America like a member of the public who’d wandered onto a film set. Elizabeth looks on helplessly while the characters she meets live (and die) like they are actually in a film. But it is the two subplots – Arnie (David Strathairn) and Sue Lynn’s (Rachel Weisz) marital problems and Leslie’s (Natalie Portman) gambling non-problem (though the least said about her family problem the better) – that make the film worthwhile. How the minimal interaction with the larger than life characters she meets is supposed to have transformed Elizabeth is anyone’s guess, so my recommendation is to treat the film as a couple of tasty sides, and ignore the main dish.

Stylistically, the dark Memphis scenes (with appropriately stormy sound effects) contrast effectively with the bright daylight of the road-trip and the saturated digital colours in the New York cafe. The director must be trying to show us Elizabeth’s changing mood, but unfortunately this loses all its impact if you’re not convinced by the main story. There’s also some CCTV surveillance business in the cafe that seems to be from another movie. Probably the movie left on the cutting-room floor.

Rating: **

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