Since I'm not able to attend the Cannes Film Festival this year, I'm scouring the Web for reviews of movies that look the most interesting. First on my list: My Blueberry Nights, the first English-language film by director Wong Kar Wai which stars Norah Jones, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz.
Overwhelmingly, the critics' message is this: Wong Kar Wai is masterful at creating a visually evocative film, though the dialogue is lacking, thus making the performances feel empty and pointless. Some say the script's shortcomings are a result of language issues, but that in the end none of it matters because the film is so beautiful. Check out these excerpts from various reviews:
"Nothing truly profound gets discovered... The director is chasing a mood here — a mood, an atmosphere and feelings... The glue here is Jones, who holds a wispy, wistful film together with a deeply felt, unself-conscious performance that strikes the right notes without ever falling into repetition or banality. She brings her singer's talent of knowing when to go for emotions and when to hold back to her acting. It's a remarkably assured work; one hopes she will further explore acting in other movies."
"Jones proves agreeable but bland company in the role; she's attractive, but lacks mystery, emotional vitality and that something special behind the eyes... Visual beauty is a given in Wong's films, as is the use of pop songs and old standards, and nothing has changed on those counts here."
More viewpoints if you read more
"Fans of his work will leave My Blueberry Nights happy that his first English language film is no outright disappointment, but they'll never class it amongst his best work."
"...A horribly written, woefully banal self- discovery mood piece (the word "drama" really can't be applied)… I don't know which is worse — the whole waitressing-in-Memphis section of the film, or the endless soul-searching section with Law in the pastry shop. But put 'em together and wham, you're looking at your watch and going, 'Holy bejeezus, this is dreadful.'"
"My Blueberry Nights is so beautifully shot, though, that you'd be excused for thinking that the quality of the performances is almost irrelevant; each scene is a symphony of color and light, each frame exquisitely shaped by the play of pigment and shade. New York is caught in blue, wintry tones; Memphis in deep, relaxed browns; Nevada's casinos come alive in jittery crimson... This is the sort of thing that you would rather see than hear, and My Blueberry Nights is full of these moments – lengthy stretches of film where we're having emotional and thematic meanings spelled out for us like we were slow children....Still, only the hard-hearted will pause to object to those moments; most of us will be swept away by Wong's visions and his depiction of love, loss and life."