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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » March 4, 2009
Film review
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My Blueberry Nights
March 4, 2009 By Witold ¯ygulski   
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Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai has long been associated with elaborate and multifaceted storylines, subtle psychological nuances and understated visual beauty. His most critically acclaimed titles to date are In the Mood for Love (2000) and 2046 (2004). Wong Kar-Wai's first stateside foray, My Blueberry Nights, is essentially a road movie. Popular singer Norah Jones is cast in the leading role and makes her screen debut by embarking on a soul-searching odyssey across the United States to recover from past failures, learn how to live her life, and find lasting happiness.

Jones plays Elizabeth, a young New Yorker desperately trying to regain control of her life after splitting up with her lover. Fate summons her to Klyutch, a small café run by Jeremy (Jude Law-Sleuth, Road to Perdition), an expat Brit who originally came to the States to run every marathon in the country but who has since lowered his sights to serving mochas and Elizabeth's favorite blueberry pie that gives the film its title. The name "Klyutch," Russian for key, is emblazoned on the door in Cyrillic-a memento of a onetime Russian girlfriend of Jeremy's. The name refers to the keys often left in the café and sometimes never reclaimed. Every key in the glass jar on the counter has a story to tell, most likely of an unrequited love or a relationship gone sour. Klyutch becomes Elizabeth's point of departure for her new life. She leaves her key with her ruminative host and sets out across America to wait tables and tend bars.

This is obviously bound to create endless opportunities for chance encounters with misfits and lost souls of every description. Enter Arnie (David Strathairn-Good Night, and Good Luck., L.A. Confidential). Arnie is an alcoholic police officer unable to get over the fact that his much younger wife Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz-Enemy at the Gates, The Constant Gardener) has left him. An addiction to alcohol, which Sue Lynne has somehow managed to kick, may have been the only thing they had in common. Next comes Leslie (Natalie Portman-Star Wars series, Closer), a genuine Texas hold'em poker pro clinically incapable of trusting other people. Instead, she grinds them down by endlessly going over her love-hate relationship with the man who sired her and taught her to play cards before she could count to ten.

Elizabeth does not take sides in any of the dramas she witnesses. She is an astute observer and tries to learn what she can from the lives of others. The action inches forward ever so slowly before eventually turning full circle with Elizabeth's return to New York City. No prizes for guessing that she finds her way back to Klyutch and Jeremy. A cinematic masterpiece it ain't, but as a date movie, My Blueberry Nights might just hit the spot.
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