My Blueberry Nights
Wong Kar-wai’s compelling 1997 Buenos Aries-set Happy Together demonstrated that he can successfully transplant his inimitable style away from Asia, but here the director of Chungking Express and In The Mood for Love has made the mistake of trying to copy that most American of cinema genres, the road movie. It’s a common failing among internationally acclaimed directors on a working trip Stateside, Bruno Dumont’s 29 Palms being the most recent example of filmmakers marginalised by their attempts to imitate the genre (other victims include Wenders and Antonioni).
What there is of a plot involves Mancunian waiter Jeremy (Jude Law) meeting mysterious stranger Elizabeth (Nora Jones) in his New York diner. Elizabeth then travels from East to West Coast to learn about love. Unusually for this filmmaker, however, it is only when Kar-wai veers away from his atypical philosophical musings and pits Elizabeth into some awkward domestic situations involving troubled couple Arnie (David Strathairn) and Sue (Rachel Weisz) that things become interesting.
Kar-wai’s ‘big idea’ here is to make his actors speak English like they’re reading subtitles, with the result that, as good, insightful and clever as Lawrence Block and Kar-wai’s screenplay is, its subtleties are undermined by the delivery. Slim pickings for fans of this master filmmaker.
General release from Fri 22 Feb.