“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.” This quote by poet Rainer Maria Rilke most effectively sums up the movies of Hong Kong based director Wong Kar Wai. As this article beautifully describes, his movies are poetic and his characters are aloof and lonely. In spite of being in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of the city his characters search for solitude and loneliness. Having seen his Chinese movies, I decided to check out his Hollywood debut movie ‘My Blueberry Nights’.
Elizabeth, played by Norah Jones is a young girl who just had a break-up and she is devastated by it. She finds in Jeremy (Jude Law), a cafe owner, a companion whom she can talk to and get over with the pain and grief. The title of the movie comes from the blueberry pie which is left completely unsold by the end of each day at Jeremy’s cafe. It acts as a metaphor for rejection in spite of having no fault of its own. Elizabeth, moves on to Memphis where she takes up two jobs- a day job as a waitress and a night job as a bar maid. In the bar she meets Andy, played fantastically by David Strathairn. Andy is a cop who just cannot accept the fact that his beautiful wife has left him and turns to alcohol for refuge. Lizzie, as Elizabeth calls herself now regularly writes to Jeremy through post cards but never reveals her location. Elizabeth now heads west and starts working in a casino as a waitress. She meets Leslie (Natalie Portman) a poker player who offers her an interesting proposition. The movie eventually ends with Elizabeth coming back to Manhattan to Jeremy’s café.
Well there is nothing extra-ordinary about this movie. The plot is fairly simple. Just as his other movies’ characters, ‘My Blueberry Nights’ also has characters who are aloof and lonely. Be it Andy who just cannot accept his being alone or Leslie who is cut off from her family and has no intent to go back. All of them evoke a strange melancholy whenever they come on screen, a sadness which is typical of Wong Kar Wai’s movies. The cinematography is amazing and poetic as usual. Though most of the movie is set indoor, there are regular shots that pan out to the outside world especially trains, maybe as a juxtaposition of the busy and bustling world outside and the empty and hollow world inside all of us. There are a lot of slow motion sequences used which at times you may feel has been over used. You may have seen better soul searching or character discovery movies. This one I would say is a one-time watch. Watch it for the masterful Wong Kar Wai.