What to Drink While Watching “My Blueberry Nights”


Sheen says:

Wong Kar-Wai made “In The Mood For Love” specially for me in 2000. He followed that up with “2046”, specially made for Heen in 2004. These two films need to be watched together, with a short break for lunch or something. He made a couple of films in between that I’ve never seen, but I like to think he made “2046” straight after “In The Mood…”. They go together beautifully, not developmentally or chronologically, but it’s clear you have to see “In The Mood…” in order to make full sense of “2046”, and  vice versa.


He made something else after that, which I never got to see either, and then he made “My Blueberry Nights” in 2007, and I just saw it last week. I was kind of hoping it would be an extension of the other two movies I’ve mentioned, but I knew it was set in the USA and Tony Leung had been replaced by Jude Law, and Maggie Chang had been substituted by Norah Jones, so obviously the result is different.


Norah Jones is a lovely singer. For anybody who hasn’t heard her, please YouTube her or get hold of one her CDs. You won’t regret it. Unfortunately, she can’t act. Well, OK, she does a reasonable job, but comes across as vapid and hesitant. When Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman appear in the film, Norah just sort of fades away. Maybe it’s just the characters they play, strong and aggressive compared to Norah’s, but the thing is, she just doesn’t seem able to show us the real personality, the motivation behind this drifting waitress called Elizabeth. 


Jude Law must have felt really comfortable in his role as the cheerfully sad café owner (a but like a Paul Auster character, I thought) who falls in love with this bland creature because she eats his blueberry pie at the beginning of the film and at the end. He stores people’s keys in a way that reminded me of the way Tony Leung’s character stashes away his letter in the tree in “In The Mood For Love”, but maybe I was just desperate to find some similarity between the two films.


Between her pies, Norah/Elizabeth goes off “to find herself” (yawn…) and comes across Rachel and later Natalie, who both try to teach her to act, but with limited success.


There’s a character called Arnie, an alcoholic policeman, who is the most interesting person in the film. The director has him killed but even this doesn’t seem to affect our Norah, despite their profoundish conversations at the bar. His ex-wife, Sue Lynne (Ms Weisz) resumes her drinking after his death, and I can’t say I blame her. There were moments when I needed a drink during this film. I would have liked to walk up to the bar where Elizabeth/Norah worked, order a beer and yell at her for a few minutes.


I was struck by Sue Lynne’s choice of drink, after six years abstinence. She opts for vodka and says something like (and I quote from memory), “It tastes bad, but then nobody drinks this for the taste” Well, pardon me, Sue Lynne, but some of us do drink vodka for the taste. Why, it’d be like Norah guzzling that blueberry pie just for the “comfort food” effects, bypassing the taste buds. However, I don’t think “My Blueberry Nights” is a vodka film. Whisky is Arnie’s tipple of choice and it makes a lot of sense to me, even though I’m not a great fan of the stuff.


I want to add something about the music. The soundtracks of “In The Mood…” and “2046” were eclectic, to say the least, and said a lot about the wide tastes of the director. In “My Blueberry Nights”, the spread is narrower but tighter. Soulful jazz was obviously what was called for, of the bittersweet variety, not the moody sort, and the end result is as tasty as any pie Jude Law can throw at me. It should be pointed out that Norah Jones is the daughter of Ravi Shankar. Like everybody else, I went through the druggy sitar-incense-Krishna phase, and Ravi Shankar provided a soundtrack to that time of my life. Since then, I’ve learned to enjoy Indian classical music without recourse to Lucy in the sky with diamonds and it’s interesting how Shankar’s daughter has turned to jazz, presumably after listening to her dad’s sitar all day as a kid.


Let me guess… in a few years’ time, Norah Jones will make an Indian classical recording and she’ll say something along the lines of, “I feel I’ve been away from home but now, strumming my sitar, it’s just like eating blueberry pie.”




2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Blooberry on December 11, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    You very cleverly avoided saying you didn’t actually enjoy this movie and I have to agree with you. Disappointing and pointless. Worthless performances all round. 2046 is way superior.


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