My Blueberry Nights DVD: Review By Dodd

The highlight here would have to be the delectable chemistry between Law and Jones.
  • OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
The film is a mildly sweet outing by Wong Kar Wai that will make you hungry for pie. There is also a very insightful interview in the extras for all cinema aficionados.
THE BAD
The middle of the film does tend to drag a bit, but hang in there for the magical conclusion.
THE FEATURE
There is something about the music of Norah Jones that makes me want to stop what I am doing and go melt somewhere in a corner. Anytime she comes through on the radio or on my I-Pod random play, it feels as though the most soothing thing possible has made its way through my ear canal and told my brain to take a vacation. Personally, I'm a fan of the singer and I have made the determination that even if the music on an album of hers is not necessarily good, her voice will always manage to prevail. So then the difficult question was posed when the film My Blueberry Nights was released: How am I going to feel about her after she acts? The singer makes her onscreen debut in the film which was recently released on DVD.

Jones stars as Elizabeth. We do not know her last name and neither does NYC diner owner Jeremy (Jude Law) who becomes intrigued with her the night he lays eyes on her. Elizabeth has gone through a rotten break-up in front of the diner and this is something Jeremy has seen his fair share of. So much in fact that he actually has a jar behind his counter as a place where angry exes can leave their apartment keys for their former significant others to puck up. It happens that Elizabeth throws her keys into this jar and strikes up a friendship with Jeremy in the process. On a weekly basis she stops by his diner for a slice of blueberry pie. Why blueberry? Because Jeremy observes that at the end of the night, most pie flavors sell well to patrons with a sweet tooth, but the blueberry generally ends up being thrown out without even a slice taken from it. The pie is dumped, just like Elizabeth.

After endless nights of reminiscing about pie and heartbreak with her newfound friend, Elizabeth believes it is high time to leave the city and explore the country to find herself. This leads her first to Memphis, Tennessee where she works as a diner server by day and a bartended by night. It is in the evening that she befriends lovelorn police officer Arnie (David Strathairn) who struggles with alcoholism and overcoming his ex-wife Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz) who struts into the bar to taunt Arnie with her girl-next-door flowery dresses and her new boyfriend's tongue down her throat. It is from here that Elizabeth then goes to northern Nevada and meets Leslie (Natalie Portman), a southern tart with a gambling addiction and daddy issues. After her cross-country trek it becomes a question that after being there for so many with problems, there is perhaps no place like the warm diner where Jeremy served up his best blueberry pie alamode.

My Blueberry Nights is the first English language film for Chinese filmmaker Wong Kar Wai. Unfortunately I am not as familiar with his extensive body of work and have made an effort to include his most notable works on my Netflix queue. This being said, the film has been slammed by critics as not living up to what the director has done in the past. As someone who is not familiar with his past work, I would have to disagree. My Blueberry Nights is not going to be one of the best films I have seen this year, but I enjoyed it in the same way that one enjoys a dish of non-gourmet comfort food. The movie does run at a slow pace and is more about characters than fast-paced plot. In addition to the slow narration pace, the director even adds touches of slow motion in scenes, which do come off more as pointless as opposed to meaningful. However, Kar Wai really spends time with these characters, and I think this is the film's main objective.

Along the lines of these characters, there is a fine cast that gives them life. Norah Jones holds her own in her first acting gig, but is still upstaged by every other experienced actor who serves as her costar. However, Elizabeth is a mild-mannered girl who listens more than she speaks, and Jones does this well. I suppose the most impressive turn here is David Strathairn as the conflicted and tortured barfly Arnie. Even prior to his Oscar-nominated turn in Good Night and Good Luck, Strathairn has delivered solid performances in the supporting category, and this role here is no exception. Jude Law is also his charming English self as the diner owner may have more than just pie for Elizabeth (sex joke!). Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman are good, but do manage to play things over the top at times.
THE EXTRAS
The DVD contains a couple of key features that are not bad for an indie DVD. There is a basic featurette that is attention-grabbing, but is still the usual montage of the actors summarizing the movie for us. However, it is interesting to hear Kar Wai's interest in Norah Jones and how he based this movie on a short film he made previously. The real draw here is an 18 minute interview with the director that involves questions from the moderator as well as a Q and A with the audience. It is here where the shade-wearing auteur is in pure movie buff mode. The DVD also includes a still gallery and a trailer.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen. Wong Kar Wai is clearly a seasoned and talented filmmaker. His direction here is very soothing as he captures the nights in different American cities and inserts delicious imagery such as vanilla ice cream oozing down a slice of pie.
THE AUDIO
5.1 Dolby Surround. Considering my praise for Norah Jones in the introduction paragraph, I think that the inclusion of her music in the film pretty much explains how I feel about the sound.
THE PACKAGE
The film is on a single disc and comes in a standard DVD case. The front cover has a blue/violet cover and pictures the female actors Norah Jones, Natalie Portman, and Rachel Weisz.
THE FINAL WORD
My Blueberry Nights received some harsh blows after its run at Cannes and its limited release. While this isn't a life-changing movie, I really did enjoy it. It does move at an incredibly slow pace, but there are talented actors involved in this project who make the time we invest in their characters very much worth the while. The highlight here would have to be the delectable chemistry between Law and Jones. I would not suggest an impulse buy, but this should not be missed on your Netflix queue.

dodd@movieweb.com

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Comments (2)

  1. Dodd

    Thanks Ed :)

    6 years agoby @doddFlag

  2. ed_wood

    I really liked it. Good review.

    6 years agoby @ed-woodFlag