Saturday, July 12, 2008

My Blueberry Nights (2007, Wong Kar-wai)

If nothing else, My Blueberry Nights makes for an interesting critical exercise, asking Wong fans to ponder the question of whether Wong’s romantic dialogue is easier to swallow in subtitle form, or if new collaborator Lawrence Block pushed it over the top into abject ridiculousness. Either way, the dialogue is merely one factor in the ultimate failure of the film. Another is the lead performance by singer-turned-actress Norah Jones- the character is written as a passive observer anyway, and Jones lacks the gravity or comfort in front of the camera to really make this work. She never quite manages to engage with her costars, and it’s hard to care about her she seems less like she’s listening than waiting to say her next line. Similarly, Wong doesn’t do his supporting cast any favors- the only one with even a fraction of Tony Leung’s soul is David Strathairn’s drunken cop, but in the end he falls prey to Wong’s inertly romantic vision. It should go without saying that the images are ravishing- not simply for the colors but also the graininess of the film stock- but instead of the seductive qualities they carry in Wong’s best work, they merely hold you at a distance here, inviting you to marvel at their beauty rather than pulling you into the story. Put it this way- as I longtime blueberry pie fan, I was curiously unmoved by the repeated shots of the tasty dessert, even with ice cream slowly melting over it. And friends, that just ain’t right. Rating: 4 out of 10.

No comments: