The prospect of an English language film from Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai (Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love) is an exciting one, and it's made more intriguing by his decision to cast Norah Jones, in her first acting role, as the lead. And while it's interesting to see the director's distinctive visual style turned to the US, My Blueberry Nights nonetheless falls far short of expectations.
Elizabeth (Jones) is a pretty young New Yorker who's recently discovered that her boyfriend is cheating on her. In her heartbreak, she befriends Jeremy (Jude Law), the proprietor of a café who's gifted with a knack for pie-related metaphors. When Elizabeth unexpectedly leaves town, Jeremy is left to eat pie alone while she tries to find herself in the highly unlikely destinations of Memphis and Las Vegas. (Wong's familiar, voyeuristic aesthetic is at its finest in the scenes set in New York, and while he captures a certain barroom mystique in Memphis, he's at a total loss in Vegas—resorting to gambling montages that resemble nothing more than low-budget casino commercials.)
There's little satisfaction to be had from the script, either: Jones is surprisingly good, and it's nice to see a female lead get to play awkward and depressed for once (suck it, Zach Braff). But Wong and Lawrence Block's script simply doesn't give Jones much to work with as it aimlessly circles: A preposterous Southern melodrama unfolds in Memphis, which is followed by a taste of Vegas' tables, where Natalie Portman drops in for a cameo as a hard-gambling free spirit (has she ever not played a free spirit? I want to see Portman's spirit in shackles one of these days). Three hundred days later, Elizabeth returns to New York, and she and Jeremy make out. It's a roundabout and unrewarding journey, made all the more ridiculous because anyone with a lick of sense would've just made out with Jude Law from the get-go.