Wong Kar-wai’s English language debut My Blueberry Nights has been getting pummeled by the critics. Maybe it’s just me, but I loved this film.
The delirious poster to a delirious film
It’s classic Wong, circa Chungking Express, Fallen Angels and 2046: the short story format for tales about impossible relationships, unrequited loves, damaged loves, broken romances, and wounded hearts traveling to distract from the hurt. This is a kind of storytelling I love, about moments captured in time, about the sensuality of image, about the overwhelming emotional assault of loving and living. Norah Jones is no Faye Wong, but she has a face just as lush and open and Wong loves to look her and redirect our perspective through her wide eyes.
What is it about the American road movie that so attracts foreign directors? Blueberry isn’t anything like Paris Texas, except perhaps for the broken relationships and a score by Ry Cooder, but both are visions of America from the eyes of a foreign filmmaker making a first-time English film, complete with the romanticized baggage they bring. For Wenders, it’s the frontier, the myth of the cowboy loner in a civilized world, and the responsibility of the man to repair his family and own up to the damage he’s done. For Wong, it’s the confounding world of broken relationships and messy emotions that drive us to either smother or flee the ones we love. It’s no coincidence that Jones’ character, Lizzie, changes the name on her name tags with every new job.
Darius Khondji’s cinematography pushes the signature style that Christopher Doyle created for Wong, super-saturated colors and skip-frame effects that momentarily freeze images to isolate fleeting moments, with even more discreet camerawork, shooting through windows, from behind display cases, around furniture, as if eavesdropping.
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