Not Quite Hollywood

Starring Jude Law, Norah Jones, David Strathairn and Rachel Weisz. Directed by Wong Kar Wai
Running Time: 90 mins
Rated: Rated M (infrequent violence, mature themes and coarse language)
This is a thematic outline of My Blueberry Nights, famed Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's first film made in English and in the US. Sometimes his post-action films make a great impact (In the Mood for Love, The Hand). Sometimes they get critical acclaim but come across as confused, even tedious (2046).

If you let yourself surrender to this one in the early scenes, you will have no difficulty in liking it. It will be rewarding. If you don't, you may become irritated by its slower pace, its talk and its probing the interior lives of its central characters.

Wong Kar Wai is clearly fascinated by the United States and its people. He is also fascinated by the diversity of locations (from New York to Memphis to Nevada casinos and deserts). His film-making style is distinctive and he uses his frequent, very rich colour pallette (deep blues and reds and yellows) to paint America more brightly (even at night), than we usually see it. He diversifies camera techniques and speeds to keep jogging us on our perceptions of his characters. And the score is by Ry Cooder.

The plot consists of chapters in the journey of Lizzie who will become Beth and, finally, Elizabeth. She is played engagingly by singer Norah Jones. Distraught at the sudden break-up of a five year relationship in New York, she finds herself talking comfortably with a diner manager (a sympathetic Jude Law, as he was in The Holiday). Most of his deserts are sold out and she accepts a piece of blueberry pie - which no one has ordered. He tells her that blueberry pie is good but people make other choices.

She takes to the road and meets an anguished policeman in the Memphis bar as well as the diner where she waitresses. She listens to him. She also listens to his frustrated wife. David Strathairn and a very different Rachel Weisz are excellent. She also comes across a compulsive gambler, played vivaciously by Natalie Portman, and finds that she has become a good listener and a good friend.

It is time to go back to the beginning of the journey and know the place for the first time.

Clearly, Wong Kar Wai is also a romantic.

Village Roadshow Out 28th August

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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