I’m a great fan of Wong Kar Wai, and the fact that some critics trashed My Blueberry Nights made me a bit nervous. But not to worry: while it is not my favorite (that’s Fallen Angels), it stands way above the average Hollywood production. Cinematography (Darius Khondji), music (Ry Cooder), immensely decorative colors, a script with bitter-sweet symbolism — Wong’s trademark style is unmistakable. The acting — well, that’s a different story. He routinely works without a finished script, which gives his actors a lot of room to improvise and shine — or leaves them without needed guidance, as the case may be. Norah Jones should stay with her music (she sings exceptionally well); Jude Law as yet another heart-throb makes you yawn; I can’t forgive Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener and The Shape of Things, and Natalie Portman who did a great job in Léon, chose some mediocre roles as well. In this film, she’s tolerable but not outstanding. That reward goes to David Strathairn as an alcoholic police officer — he by far outshines the other actors.
So yes — by and large, the acting is dull and wooden. And yet, this is a film worth watching; the critics who slam it go on and on with bakery-style metaphors like eye candy when in fact a truly good-looking film is something of a not-to-be-missed delight. No danger of vacuity, when Wong Kar Wai is directing.