“I decided to take the longest way to cross the street”
I really need to start watching more films by Wong Kar Wai. I adore In the Mood for Love, yet I still have not found the time to view its sequel 2046. Instead, I chose to take a gander at his English-language debut, My Blueberry Nights. This is a fantastic film; I don’t care what people say. It is a road trip journey through the landscape of the soul, overcoming that which did not work in life in order to accept that which does. One may think that the film is about the lead, played by singer Norah Jones, but they will be mistaken, sort of. Yes, she is the central character and it is her that is on the journey, however, the people she touches along the way have their own inner catharsis as well. Whether that view into their heart ends with joy, tragedy, hope, or forgiveness, well that is for them to experience and decide. Not every story has a happy ending, but at least finding one more smile, one person’s soul to look into and see that the world isn’t completely insane, can end it bittersweet—sometimes we need that reassurance before we can settle our bets and walk away from the table.
For an acting debut, I have to give credit to Jones. She has some heavyweights to play against, and all of them more or less bring their A-game, yet she is able to hold her own. More of a natural performance than trying to do anything flashy, Jones is the perfect vessel for us to walk around and meet the many characters she comes across. It is as much about their stories as hers, but she is most definitely the catalyst for everything. After all, the tale begins when she discovers her boyfriend has been cheating on her. Spilling her thoughts and emotions with the diner’s owner, (the place her ex had his indiscretion exposed), she finds that only by getting away will she be able to put her life back together. The bond between these two lost souls, however, has been forged and wherever the road takes her, she stays in touch with postcards written to the one person she believes can hear her voice.
Jones’ role of Lizzie is the cause of much that happens to those around her. Touching the dinerman, played brilliantly by Jude Law, (thank God they allowed him to play a Brit, because his bad American accent would have totally ruined the part, much like Rachel Weisz’s fake southern one almost did), on a spiritual level, in a way that will play a major part in his future confrontation with the one that got away, his set of keys laid in the jar above his bar for too many years; giving a depressed drunk a reason to believe that the world isn’t all bad, one shining beacon of light to bring him out of the funk he has been in since the woman he loved found she could no longer be with him, (David Strathairn truly steals the entire film with his performance, absolutely fantastic); and having the trust to lend some cash to a girl in her element of high stakes Texas Hold’Em, while also teaching her that there was more to life than just reading people and knowing their next move…it’s just too bad she did not learn it sooner, especially after the person who taught her to be a cynic had given her the gift of love through a FedEx package, (Natalie Portman, in a role that you would not expect from her, very good, very funny, and most of all very real). Each person learned more about themselves just by using Jones’ Lizzie as a mirror into their own psyche. They may not all finish for the better, but they still end with dignity and maybe a sliver of happiness that wasn’t there before she crossed their path.
While Norah Jones is a big part of the success, in her ability to let others craft their roles off of her, one can’t end without speaking about the director. Kar Wai is a master of visuals and even his use of the gimmick of looking through things constantly never grows old. Almost three-quarters of the movie are seen through windows, bakery shelf casings, bottles on a bar, security cameras, etc. Even his use of light is phenomenal—going from the dark exteriors and natural light of Law’s diner; to the bright sunlight of the Memphis diner; to the dim phosphorescence of the bar at night; all the way to the hazy, neon highlights of Vegas—every frame is gorgeous. Even the use of slow-motion at high emotive moments and close-ups of shoes or pie meeting melted ice cream don’t detract from the big picture. Never afraid of askew compositions either, we are shown some nice positioning of the camera and cropping of the picture. It’s all done with the greatest amount of care, subtly and effectively, enhancing the words and actions of those actors doing their job. With a payoff that is expected from the first moment of the film, it is still so perfect of a conclusion to her trek through America and her soul that you can’t help but smile once the credits begin to roll.
My Blueberry Nights 9/10 | ★ ★ ★ ½
 Norah Jones stars in Wong Kar Wai’s My Blueberry Nights. Photo by: ©The Weinstein Company, 2007/MaCall Polay
 Jude Law and Cat Power star in Wong Kar-Wai’s My Blueberry Nights. Photo by: Macall Polay/TWC 2007.