Norah Jones-starrer 'My Blueberry Nights' opens Cannes Fest
May 16, 2007 - 10:57:42 PM

Cannes, May 16 - The 60th Cannes Film Festival opened Wednesday with the world premiere of 'My Blueberry Nights', directed by Wong Kar Wei and starring singer-turned-actress Norah Jones, being given a warm and enthusiastic reception.

Wong said it was good to come back in a prime slot as 'most of the time my films come at the last moment'.

The film was a first in the English-language film by the director who won the best director at the festival in 1997 for his Cantonese feature 'Happy Together'.

'My Blueberry Nights' is in the running for the 12-day festival's prestigious Palme d'Or or Golden Palm award, along with 22 other films.

It tells the story of Elizabeth, a young woman who undertakes a road trip across the US after a raw break-up with her lover.

She leaves behind her new friend, a cafe owner named Jeremy, who tries to lift her spirits with blueberry pie and sets off, waitressing her way from place to place.

Elizabeth is played by jazz singer-turned actress Norah Jones in her debut acting role, while British actor Jude Law plays Jeremy.

Asked why the choice of pie fell on blueberry, Wong said: 'I asked Norah which pie she hated most,' which prompted a quick 'no' from her.

Elizabeth encounters characters such as troubled police officer - in a struggle with his estranged wife -.

Through them and by reflecting on their fates, she gains a better insight into her own personal journey, her destination and who she would like as a travel companion.

Originally conceived as three shorts, 'My Blueberry Nights' was an extension of his 2001 film 'In the Mood for Love', which was really the first chapter, Wong said.

He described work on the film as collaboration in a bid to find a universal cinematic language. Owing to a common distortion in the Chinese language, a kiss for instance can have a very different and bigger meaning.

Jones said: 'We took a long time filming that. It was really the only scene where he guided and said how he wanted it.'

Law, whose character runs a Russian-named cafe in New York, inspired the story and Jones' voice prompted Wong to offer her first acting role.

Jones said: 'I jumped in - I had a good feeling of trust in him.' The 28-year-old said she was really nervous during the first shoot and spoke in a high-pitched voice to describe what the first take sounded like.

She does not sing in the movie in a bid to underscore her performance as an actress, rather than a singer. But she did choose the music for individual film segments at the request of Wong.

'The role was perfect for Norah,' said Wong, adding, the film focussed more on interpersonal distance rather than a journey.

'Working on the movie was a huge learning experience as the rules were thrown out the window. It felt very free and was challenging and exciting,' Law said.

The world movie business decamps to Cannes annually - May 16 to 27 this year - turning the Cote d'Azur town and its famous beachfront into the backdrop for the world's most prestigious film festival.

To help mark the 60th anniversary, Cannes has unveiled a programme that in a sense pays tribute to some of the leading figures from the festival's recent past, including Serb-based Emir Kusturica and US filmmakers Quentin Tarantino, Michael Moore and the brothers Joel and Ethan Coen.

Of the 1,600 movies considered for this year's festival, 64 feature films are to be screened across the festival's main sections.

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