My Blueberry Nights
|My Blueberry Nights|
|Directed by||Wong Kar Wai|
|Produced by||Wong Kar Wai
Jacky Pang Yee Wah
|Written by||Wong Kar Wai
|Music by||Ry Cooder|
|Edited by||William Chang|
Block 2 Pictures
Jet Tone Films
|Distributed by||The Weinstein Company|
My Blueberry Nights is a 2007 romance/drama/road art film directed by Wong Kar Wai, his first feature in English. The screenplay by Wong and Lawrence Block is based on a short Chinese-language film written and directed by Wong. This film was the debut of jazz singer Grammy-winner Norah Jones as an actress, and also starred Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman, and Benjamin Kanes.
Jeremy is an émigré from Manchester who owns a small New York City cafe. The cafe becomes a haven for Elizabeth, a young woman, as Jeremy tells her that he saw her boyfriend cheating on her. Devastated, she stays in his cafe the entire night, eating a blueberry pie he made, and also telling stories about each other. Jeremy, having an eidetic memory, explains her the bowl of keys he is keeping, knowing the story of every person who left the key in his cafe and keeping it in the bowl in case someone comes back for them. Elizabeth leaves her key of her apartment and leaves Jeremy's cafe.
Elizabeth, now calling herself Lizzie, eventually drifts to Memphis, Tennessee, where she takes two jobs, waitress by day and barmaid by night, in order to earn enough money to finance the purchase of a car. She regularly sends postcards to Jeremy, taking a liking to him, without revealing where she lives or works and, although he tries to locate her by calling all the restaurants in the area, he fails to find her. Later on, he decides to send out postcards to any restaurants she may be to try to find her.
One of Lizzie's regulars at both jobs is local police officer Arnie Copeland, an alcoholic who cannot accept the fact his wife Sue Lynne has left him and is flaunting her freedom by openly socializing with a younger man named Randy. He confesses to Lizzie his many attempts at achieving sobriety have ended in failure, taking many AA meetings but failing. One night off duty in the bar where Lizzie works, he drunkenly threatens Sue Lynne with his gun if she leaves. Later on, Arnie drives drunk and dies after crashing into a pole. Lizzie comforts Sue Lynne at the crash site, before leaving town, and is given the money towards Arnie's tab at the bar, revealing to Lizzie that she made a mistake and that she misses him. The place where he died is also the place where they met, suggesting that he may have committed suicide.
Heading west, Elizabeth – now calling herself Beth – gets another waitress job at a casino in a small town in Nevada. Here she meets Leslie, an inveterate poker player who has lost all her money. Beth agrees to lend her $2200 she has in exchange for a third of her winnings or her car, a Jaguar XK, if she loses. When she does lose, she fulfills her promise by giving Beth her Jaguar, but asks her to drive her to Las Vegas so she can borrow money from her father, whom she has not seen in a long time.
While en route Leslie receives a call from a Vegas hospital, where her father has been admitted and is dying. She believes the call is simply a ruse to lure her home, but upon arrival in Vegas she discovers her father died the previous night. Leslie announces she wants to keep the car, which she had stolen from her father, who had sent her the title and registration despite their estrangement. She confesses she really won the card game and gives Beth her promised share of the winnings, which she uses to finally purchase the car she always wanted.
Elizabeth returns to Manhattan and, discovering her ex-boyfriend has vacated his apartment and moved on with his life, returns to the cafe, where Jeremy has had a stool at the counter reserved for her ever since she left. As she eats a slice of blueberry pie, Elizabeth realizes her feelings for him are reciprocated. She passes out on the counter after spending the night, and Jeremy kisses her while she is asleep, and she returns the kiss as the film ends.
- Norah Jones as Elizabeth (Lizzie/Beth)
- Jude Law as Jeremy
- David Strathairn as Arnie Copeland
- Rachel Weisz as Sue Lynne Copeland
- Natalie Portman as Leslie
- Chan Marshall ... Katya
- John Malloy ... Diner Manager
- Demetrius Butler ... Male Customer
- Frankie Faison ... Travis
- Adriane Lenox ... Sandy
- Benjamin Kanes ... Randy
- Michael Hartnett ... Sunglasses
- Michael May ... Aloha
- Chad Davis ... Boyfriend
- Katya Blumenberg ... Girlfriend
In Making My Blueberry Nights, a bonus on the DVD release of the film, screenwriter/director Wong Kar Wai reveals his first choice for Elizabeth was singer Norah Jones despite her lack of prior acting experience. He originally intended to shoot the film in sequence, but when he discovered Rachel Weisz, whom he wanted to cast as Sue Lynne, was pregnant, he agreed to film the Memphis scenes last to allow her time to give birth and recuperate before beginning work.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007 and was shown at the Hamburg Film Festival, the Valladolid International Film Festival, and the Munich Asia Filmfest before going into limited theatrical release in Canada on November 16. It opened throughout Europe and Asia before opening on six screens in the US on April 4, 2008, as a limited release on USA. It earned $74,146 on its opening weekend. It eventually grossed $867,275 in the US and $21,101,602 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $21,968,877.
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $74,146 in 6 theaters in the United States, ranking #43 at the box office. By the end of its run, My Blueberry Nights grossed $867,275 domestically and $21,101,602 internationally, totaling $21,968,877 worldwide.
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle observed, "The movie's overall story is modest, and if it were any longer the film might start to drag. But at 90 minutes, it's short enough to be carried along on the drama of its individual scenes and the strength of its performances . . . The nice thing about Wong is that, like a good gambler, he knows when to bet the farm and when to hold back. Most of the time, he plays it straight, and other times he will speed up the action into a kind of blur, to indicate time passing; or he'll fade out and back into the same shot, as though to indicate renewed focus. Everything he does re-creates a state of mind. It's such a relief to realize he's doing everything for a reason and not to show off."
Meghan Keane of the New York Sun said the film "keenly displays Wong Kar Wai's aptitude for relationship drama and showcasing the female form, but the Chinese director's American debut often makes the earnest miscalculation of a dubbed foreign film . . . [I]n translating his fascination with the distances between two people into American vernacular, Mr. Wong betrays an unfamiliarity with his subject matter that often undermines his story . . . Sadly, [his] interpretation of American lives and landscapes has an alien quality to it. He fetishizes the American countryside, drowns his characters' sorrows in whiskey, and makes plot-oriented decisions based on aesthetics rather than continuity or logic. The image of beautiful women in oversize sunglasses leaning against convertibles is not an accurate depiction of Americana – but it doesn't make for a bad visual."
In Hong Kong, critical reception was generally mixed. Perry Lam of Muse Magazine compared the film to Wong's earlier work, Chungking Express, and found My Blueberry Nights "a much lesser, more ordinary affair."
Awards and nominations
Wong Kar Wai was nominated for the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and for Best Foreign Film at the Cinema Writers Circle Awards in Spain.
|2007||Kar Wai Wong||Palme d'Or||Nominated|
- Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain
|2009||My Blueberry Nights||Best Foreign Film (Mejor Película Extranjera)||Nominated|
|My Blueberry Nights|
|Soundtrack album by Various Artists|
|Released||April 1, 2008|
|Label||Blue Note Records|
The soundtrack, released on the Blue Note Records label, features tracks by the star of the film Norah Jones, Cat Power, Ry Cooder, Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, Otis Redding, Cassandra Wilson, and Amos Lee.
- The Story – Norah Jones – 4:10
- Living Proof – Cat Power – 3:10
- Ely Nevada – Ry Cooder – 2:31
- Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding – 3:19
- Looking Back – Ruth Brown – 4:16
- Long Ride – Ry Cooder – 3:13
- Eyes on the Prize – Mavis Staples – 4:06
- Yumeji's Theme – Chikara Tsuzuki – 2:22
- Skipping Stone – Amos Lee – 2:21
- Bus Ride – Ry Cooder – 2:58
- Harvest Moon (Neil Young) – Cassandra Wilson – 4:44
- Devil's Highway – Hello Stranger – 5:34
- Pajaros – Gustavo Santaolalla – 2:22
- The Greatest – Cat Power – 3:24