Screenwriters: Kar Wai Wong, Lawrence Block
Starring: Norah Jones, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman
Running time: 111 mins
Have you ever stumbled across the live streaming for certain reality shows during a random bit of channel hopping? If so, there's every chance you were dismayed by the utter tedium of the vacuous conversation taking place between the fame-craving dullards on display. However, compared to the dire nature of My Blueberry Nights, it will seem profound in hindsight.
A raft of inane chatter between jilted young woman Elizabeth (Norah Jones) and English cafe owner Jeremy (Jude Law) dominates Kar Wai Wong's lousy film. Self-consciously seeking to be cool and profound, the dialogue is excruciatingly awful as Jeremy draws parallels between life and the various pies and keys in his establishment. We're talking sub-Gump territory. Not even the separation of the pair, prompted by Elizabeth's attempt to find enlightenment through a road trip, can save proceedings.
Good actors can often salvage risible lines by delivering them with great conviction, but this is far beyond the capabilities of Norah Jones. The proverbial 'rabbit in headlights', her nerves are plainly visible and she often appears to be reading from an autocue. Given that she's present in the majority of the scenes, My Blueberry Nights was always doomed by such a poor casting decision.
During crucial moments, her supreme blandness renders her character almost invisible on screen and negates attempts to create genuine drama. It's rather like the climactic scenes in Back To the Future, when Marty McFly keeps checking his family photograph only to discover that they are gradually vanishing. Sadly, there is no flux capacitor to save Norah Jones.
As Jeremy, Jude Law conveys an unbearable amount of smugness for a character clearly designed to be a likeable, whimsical chap. The long distance communication between the platonic pair, once Elizabeth sets off, would ideally leave the audience yearning for them to reunite and confess their love for each other. Instead, we're left pleading for the end credits to roll and nothing else. The only high point between the pair occurs when they simultaneously have nosebleeds, but hopes of a swift ending are soon dashed when they lose significantly less that ten pints of blood each.
Bizarrely, when Rachel Weisz and David Strathairn eventually crop up midway through, it feels as if they've stumbled onto the wrong film set by accident. Their assured turns as an estranged couple, encountered by Elizabeth, briefly bolster the film, particularly during a fiery showdown in a bar where verbals are more potent than bullets. Weisz wonderfully portrays a damaged persona that veers wildly between sluttishness, denial and humanity. Natalie Portman is also on hand during the latter portion of the film, playing a bubbly gambler with a tricky family situation. However, the bond she forms with Elizabeth mainly succeeds in highlighting how much of a weak link Norah Jones is.
Director Kar Wai Wong attempts to make the film visually engaging with regular forays into slow motion and slow fades, but it's utterly pointless within the context of a tedious film. The best artistic decision Wong could have made was to deploy extreme fast-motion for the bulk of the film, with a brief return to normal pace for the Weisz/Strathairn interlude.
An uninvolving mess, My Blueberry Nights is notable for exposing the lack of Norah Jones' thespian talents, while wasting an all too brief performance from Rachel Weisz. Watching your average blue movie will give you more of an insight into life and love than this particular blueberry.