Wong Kar Wai‘s In the Mood for Love (2000) is one of my favourite movies; however, I was a bit lost with 2046 (2004). His Happy Together (1997) upset me for at least two weeks, and for no reason. Now My Blueberry Nights (2007).
I think to understand Wong’s films, you really need to be “in the moment”, in other words, a scene that looks totally irrelevant will suddenly start to look great. It’s like listening to a piece of music, one person may find it flat, another may start to emote. That’s how he skill-fully intertwines his shots with a piece of music. With this film, it hits me during the scene where Jeremy (Jude Law) holds a postcard from Elizabeth(Norah Jones) sitting by the windows with Harvest Moon (Cassandra Wilson) playing in the background: I feel longing in the moment. While rightfully you may feel nothing at all.
Gambler Leslie is played by Natalie Portman, pre Black Swan (2007), she is beyond great in this role, and should have gotten a nomination of something for this. I say this because she is captivating in the scene where Leslie and Beth are having breakfast.
Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz) is as good as Natalie Portman, and perhaps looks too beautiful to play a separated wife, in Memphis, whose husband, Arnie(David Strathairn), just cannot let go of her. He ends up dying at the place where they fell in love. What a difference a day made? and we have several days and nights to catch up with Liz and Arnie.
Norah Jones is fine in her role. Somehow she has become more a supporting actor then the lead, and perhaps that was the intent? or perhaps, Wong needed someone green and naive, but who understands blues. ( I don’t know why I keep seeing Rachel McAdams plays Elizabeth instead!)
The beginning of the film is a bit of a “Hmmmm”, but once you get to Sue Lynne and later Leslie the whole film starts to look quite good, in fact.
P.S. of course his movies are all about love!