Love and Loss: Our Review of ‘My Blueberry Nights’ on MUBI

Posted in What's Streaming? by - June 30, 2024
Love and Loss: Our Review of ‘My Blueberry Nights’ on MUBI

Wong Kar-wai’s My Blueberry Nights reminds me of what a senior critic once said about most auteurs. To him, these auteurs make the same films but viewers just receive those similar films in different ways. In this film, Wong still has his saturated warm colours to depict hallways in bars or mourning lovers. There’s a bit of sunlight as he depicts two women (Natalie Portman and Norah Jones) sharing a bed. I mean, he left Hong Kong for Argentina before and he wonderfully directed a classic Asian queer love story. But does all this translate when he captures the misadventures of a travelling American waitress, Elizabeth (Norah Jones)? She starts out in NYC and becomes a regular in a cafe run by a Brit, Jeremy (Jude Law). She makes her way to Nahsville and Vegas, meeting people who can’t get out of their rut.

Elizabeth likes a lot of the people she meets but she always finds them during their extreme moments. One of them is Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz), mourning her dead ex-husband and fellow bar patron (David Strathairn). What makes this loss worse is that Elizabeth’s boss hits Sue Lynne with her ex’s hefty $800 liquor tab. My Blueberry Nights fits very well into Wong Kar-wai’s filmography where his characters sometimes don’t act like people. I mean, he did have a movie where a woman breaks into someone’s apartment to clean it up. But hitting up a ‘widow’ with her dead ex’s liquor tab is beyond tactless that it shocked me. Also, all of this is happening as Wong frames Elizabeth in ways that aim for certain dramatic aesthetics. Wong’s films are always nice to look at but depicting someone’s suffering this way comes off as distant.

My Blueberry Nights doesn’t always depict people watching each other as they’re going through their absolute worst moments. Well, he moves on those close-ups of the hands of a gambler (Portman) playing with her poker chips. She’s confident just like most poker players, she goes all in, and she loses twice in one night. I’m giving Wong Kar-wai the benefit of the doubt that he intentionally played those scenes out as comedies. Anyway, the second time, the gambler promises Elizabeth that if she loses, she gives the latter her car. Before the handover, they go on a road trip so that the gambler can visit her dying father. Of course, after that visit, she tells Elizabeth that she can’t give her the car for reasons. While watching this movie, I just hope that people don’t see me like I see characters like this who are insufferably twee.

Watch My Blueberry Nights on MUBI.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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