'Blueberry' greeted with 'quiet respect' from press


Dialogue with Wong Kar Wai

CANNES -- "My Blueberry Nights" drew mixed reactions Wednesday from the world press corps attending the premiere of Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's first English-language film.

"Because I found it predictable, it was not like a typical Wong Kar Wai film," said Sylvia Toh, a reporter for Singapore's New Press. "Wong captured Americana well, and I enjoyed the film visually, but Norah Jones was a little self-conscious."

London Daily Mail columnist Baz Bamigboye said he liked the film but added that after all his years covering film festivals he could tell that many in the audience did not share his view. "There was a quiet respect for the film, but no love," he said. "Some people are giving Norah a hard time about it, but I thought she was lovely."

The packed screening at the Palais des Festivals was followed by a news conference at which Wong, Jones and co-star Jude Law fielded questions about working on a film of firsts -- singer Jones' first screen appearance and Wong's first film in English.

Wearing his trademark sunglasses indoors, Wong said that it was Jones' voice that attracted him to her in the first place, though she does not sing in the film.

"Norah's voice is cinematic, like a finely tuned instrument that evokes a story all its own," Wong said.

The American-set film, which Wong said is about the distance between two lovers, includes an unlikely soundtrack of songs from the likes of American R&B great Otis Redding and Shigeru Umebayashi, the Japanese composer who wrote the theme to Wong's previous film, "2046."

"Music has no nationalities," said Wong, adding that he chose the music with Jones' help by giving her still photographs from locations he scouted before shooting began and asking her to match music to the pictures.

Jones recalled how she had to suppress her nerves upon learning she would act opposite Law and how her voice cracked into a high squeal on the film's first take.

Jones credited Wong and the generosity of Law and co-stars Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz for putting her at ease in the new medium. The collaborative nature of moviemaking struck Jones, she said, "as more like jazz than any other music."

Jones said she had not begun to plan working on a second movie as she has a long concert tour ahead of her.