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Review: 'My Blueberry Nights' leaves you with heartburn

Posted Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 4:46 PM Central

by John Couture


There's nothing wrong with the blueberry pie, just people make other choices. You can't blame the blueberry pie, it's just... no one wants it.

And as simple as that, Jude Law solves the conundrum of My Blueberry Nights. It's not a bad movie. It has wonderful ingredients. But sometimes, people would rather indulge in cheesecake or chocolate mousse instead of the old reliable blueberry pie.

Actually people strive for more decadence and this is true for the movie as well as Norah Jones' Elizabeth. In the context of the movie, you could make a nice parallel between pie and pie maker (Law's Jeremy). The fact that night after night Elizabeth gobbles down her share of blueberry pie foreshadows the expected ending that is as predictable as any of Wong Kar Wai's previous efforts.

But much like life itself, it's not the beginning or end of the movie that matters to Wong Kar Wai, it's the journey from point A to point B. Or in this case, point A to point A.

Wong Kar Wai departs from his usual practice of casting asian actors with mixed results. The supporting cast of Law, Rachel Weisz, David Strathairn and Natalie Portman are top notch and they deliver on the thread-bare script as best as they can.

For his lead though, Wong Kar Wai casts singer Norah Jones in her first film role. Immediately, shades of Glitter and Crossroads start swimming in your head and while Ms. Jones fares much better than the pop stars before her, she is definitely a fish out of water in more ways than one.

The main problem for Norah is that her character is in basically every scene and really must carry the action during the movie. She is the audience's window into the lives of the people that she connects with. Unfortunately, that window is most often wooden and greatly overshadowed by the great cast of supporting actors that share the screen with her.

Even Natalie Portman with her locks dyed blonde in an obvious attempt to differentiate her from the leading lady shines through the dye job and unnecessary accent to steal the show in her many scenes with Norah Jones.

Before you get the idea that this movie is a trainwreck ala those other pop singer movies, like Jeremy mentions in the movie, there's nothing wrong with it. In fact, there are some great performances in the movie. In particular, David Strathairn's turn as an alcoholic cop proves that his praise for Good Night, and Good Luck wasn't a fluke.

When it's all said and done, the movie is basically equal parts When Harry Met Sally... and Thelma & Louise. Unfortunately, something is lost in translation Wong Kar Wai's first English language feature film. However, while it might not be my favorite flavor of pie, you may find that you like it.

Special Features
In keeping with the pie analogy from the movie, this DVD offering is certainly offered ala carte and not ala mode. There are really only two main bonus features on the DVD.

The "Making My Blueberry Nights" featurette is a standard companion piece in which the cast and filmmakers share their thoughts about the movie with the audience. It's always a nice touch to be able to see what factors motivated their choice to take certain roles and this little feature is admirably put together.

The "Q&A with Director Wong Kar Wai" is another small gem in that we are given a rare glimpse into the mind of a talented modern day filmmaker. He offers some insight into his desire to make this movie around Norah Jones and his honesty is fresh and welcoming, but it still doesn't excuse the fact that she's not a seasoned actress and often finds herself over her head.

There is also a stills gallery that has shots both from the movie/publicity and location scouting. The location scouting pictures are a nice touch that most offerings overlook.

I know it may sound like that I'm just getting bitter in my reviews with two somewhat negative reviews in as many days, but the fact of the matter is that both of these movies failed to live up to their promise let alone my lofty expectations.

There are certainly positive things to pull out of this movie, but in the end, it might be a wiser choice to opt for chocolate cake or just skip dessert altogether.

Recommendation: Rent It