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The Hong Kong filmmaker’s first and only American feature film, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS is an extension of his filmography. However, the film never seems to reach the sublime of these previous works…
In 2006, when he made MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS, Wong Kar-Wai is already a recognized filmmaker, appreciated by critics and the public. Almost twenty years later As Tears Go Byhis first film, the director has now won numerous prizes, including that of directing at the Cannes Film Festival for HappyTogether (1997) and the César for best foreign film for In the Mood for Love (2001). However, we will have to wait for the delicate production of 2046 (2004) so that the filmmaker does not decide to seek a new landscape, refreshing and invigorating.
After having majestically filmed the cities and landscapes of Argentina in HappyTogether, Wong Kar-Wai ventures to the United States to shoot what will become MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS. Accompanied by a new director of photography (Darius Khonji), the filmmaker paints a portrait of Elizabeth (norah Jones), a young woman who decides to go on a trip across the country after a difficult breakup. Without a real goal, she wanders from meeting to meeting, reflecting on sentimental relationships.
From the first minutes of the opening credits, it is obvious that MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS respect the style Wong Kar-Wai. Anyone who has watched the director’s 90s films (As Tears Go By, Days of Being Wild, Chungking Express, Fallen Angels) will recognize the filmmaker’s touch there. true to himself, Wong Kar-Wai transports the spectator with its particular atmosphere, its nostalgic film and its inexhaustible romanticism. The saturated colors, the neon signs and the ever-moving subways help create a melancholy atmosphere in a cold yet comforting New York.
Like he usually does, Wong Kar-Wai attaches great importance to music. If the filmmaker does not hesitate to reuse certain themes such as that ofIn the Mood for Love, interpreted for the occasion on the harmonica, he reconnects above all with his fascination for female singers. In 1994, the director had notably allowed the first steps in the cinema of the singer faye wong in his famous Chungking Express. On this occasion, the Hong Kong artist also performed a version of “dreams” of the Cranberries in Cantonese. This time they are norah jones and Cat Power (Chan Marshall) who venture in front of the camera and sign two of the most melancholic songs of the film: “the story” and “The Greatest”. True vector of emotion at Wong Kar-Waithe music joins the image to carry the spectator in a melancholy pop sensory experience.
Like previous works by Wong Kar-Wai, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS is interested in themes of loneliness, disappointed love and melancholy. The film follows the stories of four characters (Jude Law, David Straitharn and Rachel Weisz, Rachel Portman) that norah jones encounter during his road-trip, replacing the viewer. Through the eyes of the young woman, who has just experienced a difficult breakup, love seems to cause nothing but destruction around her. Jeremy (Jude Law) lives locked in the habits of an old romantic relationship while Arnie (David strathairn) isolates himself in alcohol to support the end of his marriage. Leslie (Natalie Portman), meanwhile, takes refuge in gambling to accept the disappearance, first temporary then permanent, of her father.
MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS is therefore a road movie around love, melancholy but also flight. The feature film thus follows the character of Elizabeth who, too frightened at the idea of traveling the three meters separating her from a new love story, prefers to go by car across the United States. Based on a predictable and agreed love affair, Wong Kar-Wai reminds us that time heals wounds and that in the end, the best way to say goodbye to someone you can’t imagine living without is sometimes to say nothing.
Just as poetic as the previous films of Wong Kar-Wai, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS a bit disappointing though. In addition to its sometimes hollow characters, the feature film paradoxically fails because of what should have been its asset: namely, the characteristic style of its director. Already when it was released, many critics had compared this film to chung king Express, released fifteen years earlier. The two feature films consist of loosely related chapters featuring a restaurant, a policeman, and a well-known singer who performs part of the soundtrack. Also, the two works focus on the melancholy and the broken heart of these characters. After the shock of chung king Express years earlier, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS comes across as a dull or even washed-out film as if certain themes have already been overused.
Fourth consecutive film of Wong Kar-Wai to compete for the Palme d’Or in Cannes, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS is an extension of the director’s other masterpieces even if he never manages to reach their splendour. The film remains magnificent, thanks to the so pleasant style of its director, but sometimes locks itself in a superficiality that we guess is linked to the lack of renewal of certain themes. An opportunity for the director to take an interest in a new style, that of the action film (The Grandmaster2013).
• Original title : My Blueberry Nights
• Achievement : Wong Kar-Wai
• Actors: Norah Jones, Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman
• Release date : November 28, 2007
• Duration : 95 minutes
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MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS, or melancholy according to Wong Kar-Wai – Review