10 April 2008

My Blueberry Nights is minor Wong Kar-Wai, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Chungking Express is minor Wong Kar-Wai, too—and also one of the greatest movies ever made. Whenever My Blueberry Nights manages to tap into the same spontaneous, inventive spirit that informs all of Wong's best films, it's literally intoxicating. There are moments in the opening scenes, in which Wong brings his style and sensibility to New York City, when I was all but levitating out of my seat with happiness—and that was before I heard Cat Power on the soundtrack.

The frame narrative, which stars Jude Law (miscast but irresistible) and Norah Jones (amateurish but adorable) as a pair of Wong's quintessentially romantic oddballs, promises a lot more than the film ultimately delivers. Once Jones hits the road, we're treated to a series of bittersweet episodes set in an entirely imaginary America, none of which is especially compelling, despite the presence of Rachel Weisz (luminous, with one perfectly tousled lock of hair across her face), Natalie Portman (miscast as usual), and David Strathairn (underused). A detour to Las Vegas, which should have been amazing—Wong Kar-Wai in Las Vegas!—fizzles out too quickly. In the end, we're left with a double handful of wonderful moments and a movie that is intermittently enchanting if you're a Wong Kar-Wai fan, and if not, not.

If My Blueberry Nights is something of a misfire, at least it's an encouraging one. Over the past decade, Wong has made a pair of undeniable masterpieces—In the Mood for Love and 2046—that are formally perfect, visually stunning, and utterly unlike his best work. This new movie represents a tentative return to the qualities that made him, for a few precious years, the most exciting filmmaker in the world. With Chungking Express and Fallen Angels, all of the stars were perfectly aligned, but you can't expect it to happen every time. I'd rather see Wong make ten more movies like My Blueberry Nights than another 2046, because, sooner or later, lightning is bound to strike again. Or so I hope. Because when it does, it's going to light up the entire world.

2 comments:

1minutefilmreview said...

Nice post. We're Wong's fans too.

Tor Hershman said...

I tried to call that there mofo up but I got.................
...wait for it...
.....................
wong number.

Soooooo, moi did this lill' film/research

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7iQRFP_e90