Cannes kicks off tonight with Wong Kar-Wai's eagerly anticipated English-language debut My Blueberry Nights. Wong Kar-Wai is a Cannes fave and was president of the jury last year. I remember being in heaven there a few years back watching his In The Mood For Love which won him the best director award but should have scooped him the Palm D'Or too, then being poolside at the Hotel Du Cap a couple of years later with a bunch of other folk waiting for news on whether the print for his 2046 was even going to show up, meaning we'd have to leave the pool and head back into town to see it. It did and I fell asleep for some of it.
My Blueberry Nights stars singer Norah Jones in her acting debut, as well Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz.
Jeff Wells of Hollywood-Elsewhere.com is the first to post a comment calling it "a mystifying shortfall for a respected, world-class director and a full-on mediocrity that comes close to being a rank embarassment".
Wells' disappointment is shared by Variety’s Todd McCarthy who writes: “As much a trifle as its title suggests, My Blueberry Nights sees Hong Kong stylist Wong Kar Wai applying his characteristic visual and thematic doodles to a whispy story of lovelorn Yanks. With pop music sensation Norah Jones floating through the episodic tale as a blank-page heroine striving to overcome the blues, beautifully embroidered pic generates increased interest as it travels from East to West and encounters Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman along the way, but its ambition and accomplishment remain modest in the extreme."
McCathy then goes on to say that Blueberry Nights echoes Kar-Wai's earlier In the Mood for Love "in its moody melancholy, claustrophobic settings and highly decorative shooting style. But while the actors' dialogue delivery is perfectly natural, the aphoristic philosophical nuggets Wong favors sound banal and clunky in this context, leaving the film thematically in the shallow end of the pool.”
Time Out’s Dave Calhoun, meanwhile, calls it “a contemporary love story that blends elements of the classic American road movie with a visual style and a concern for emotional longing that could only belong to the director who has become a veteran face at Cannes and a darling of the world art house scene”, but was equally underwhelmed, insisting that the film “is likely to disappoint many among his wide international following. This is Wong watered down and plagued with poor performances and weak writing.”