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Monday, August 3, 2020

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Film Review: Love loses in ‘Blueberry’


Start with love, add loss, stir in heartache and late-night pastry binging and you’ve got My Blueberry Nights.

Hong Kong film auteur Wong Kar-Wai, best known for his 2000 art house hit In the Mood for Love and more recently its 2006 loose sequel 2046, tries his hand at a road film with Blueberry. Wong, known for films that are loosely, if at all, based on plot, steers away from his Hong Kong-themed films to take My Blueberry Nights on a road trip of characters that attempt to recover lost loves.

Singer-songwriter Norah Jones makes her acting debut as Elizabeth, a young woman trying to get over a breakup when she first meets Jeremy, a cafe owner played by Jude Law. As she continues to reel from her loss, Elizabeth seeks out Jeremy’s company, binging on pastries and venting romantic frustrations after closing time.

Romantic longing, the theme that Wong continues to base his films on, is present in Blueberry, with Elizabeth wandering across the country in an attempt to get over her ex-boyfriend.

As with other Wong films, Blueberry contains unrequited love in the form of police officer Arnie (David Strathairn), who tries to drink away his failed relationship with his cheating wife Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz).

Love, as in most of Wong’s other films, is not a happy event in any characters’ lives. It is a transient, ephemeral occurrence that tends to haunt those who happen to stumble upon it. While performances in previous films tend to capture a mood, the actors in Blueberry tend to go in the opposite direction, with some over-the-top performances that do not fit with Wong’s style. Rather than convey a dreamy quality, as most of his work, it tends to clash with the rest of the film.

Unlike his previous films, Blueberry takes a different approach, as more plot and dialogue are used to tell a story than in previous films, which relied more on the actor’s subtle expressions to convey unfulfilled romantic aspirations. Despite this, the plot does not add much to the story, as Jones’ inexperience beyond music videos is evident in her dry delivery and mostly deadpan acting. It’s rather unclear why she is so trusting or why the audience would relate to her, despite being the protagonist on a soul-searching journey.

While Wong makes an effort to make Blueberry more accessible to American audiences with a more plot-driven film, it borrows elements from both In The Mood for Love and 2046, such as theme music and costumes.

For those not familiar with Wong’s work, this might be an introductory film to help get acquainted with the auteur’s work, although for fans, it might not be as sweet as its title.

Verdict: You can’t make a pie with these blueberries.


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