Wong Kar Wai’s first English-language films had a lukewarm reception and if it’s not quite as good as his Hong Kong movies, this still has some wondrous moments. After the elliptical 2046 (2004) and the frustrating In the Mood for Love (2000), My Blueberry Nights marks a return to the fast food loners of Chungking Express (1994), and its companion film Fallen Angels (1995). From a western perspective, maybe the voice over monologues sound more banal because we hearing the words directly; though that device is sparingly used in this film. I don’t want to concentrate on the negatives, rather Darius Khondji’s fabulous cinematography and Chang Suk-ping (a Wong regular) stunning production design (he also edited). This isn’t to downgrade Wong’s contribution, his authorial voice is always evident.
Khondji was responsible for the fabulous blackness of Se7en (1995), here he revels in the neon bright colours of the sets. The actors are excellent too: Jude Law’s wonky Mancunian accent doesn’t detract from the warmth of his character; Norah Jones’ debut is perfectly pitched, or maybe she’s perfectly cast as the character doesn’t have to do too much. Rachel Weisz smoulders as David Strathearn’s estranged wife and Natalie Portman’s bottle blonde gambler stays the right side of caricature.
The film’s almost as stylised as Francis Coppola’s magnificent One from the Heart (1980); it’s beautiful to look at and, occasionally, also pulls at the heartstrings.