My Blueberry Nights, 12A

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The Independent Culture

Wong Kar Wai is one of the most critically revered of international directors, but when his first American film, My Blueberry Nights, debuted at Cannes last year, even some of his most fervent admirers were wincing. Jazz chanteuse Norah Jones stars as a New Yorker who breaks up with her boyfriend and hangs around Jude Law's café for blueberry pie and sympathy.

After a few visits, though, Law's wobbly northern vowels get too much for her, so she takes a bus across America, stopping off in Tennessee and Nevada, and working as a waitress in both places. In Tennessee, she meets an alcoholic policeman (David Straithairn) who can't get over his former wife (Rachel Weisz). Then, in Nevada, she runs into a brassy professional gambler (Natalie Portman, a curious casting decision).

The actors are given stagey audition monologues to show off their accents, for better or worse, but not one of them gets anything amounting to a storyline, despite a script co-written by the crime novelist, Lawrence Block.

Jones documents these wispy vignettes in postcards she sends back to Law, but her writing is so vague and pretentious that he'd be most likely to use them as coasters. My Blueberry Nights is as flimsy as a postcard, too, and unless you can stomach all the self-parodying, hazy slow-motion, then most postcards look better.