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April 2008
Run, Fatboy, Run

By Melissa Walters



Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Director: Wong Kar Wai
Screenwriter: Wong Kar Wai, Lawrence Block
Starring: Norah Jones, Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman


When Elizabeth (Norah Jones) learns from local diner owner Jeremy (Jude Law) that her boyfriend is cheating on her, she does the predictable; she gets angry, wallows in self-pity and leaves New York to embark on a bus trip to self-discovery. First stop, Memphis where Elizabeth takes a job as a waitress and befriends an alcoholic police officer (David Strathairn) estranged from his cheating wife (Rachel Weisz). After observing the tragedy that becomes their life unfold, Elizabeth packs up again to find herself in Nevada. There she takes a job in a casino and encounters Leslie (Natalie Portman), a compulsive gambler determined to change her downward luck. Leslie persuades Elizabeth to contribute her hard earned savings in exchange for the promise of greater return, including a brand new jaguar, a proposition that naïve Elizabeth cannot turn down. After her journey with Leslie comes to an abrupt finish, Elizabeth is inspired to return to New York and reunite with Jeremy, with whom she continued to correspond by postcard and whose own relationship met an untimely end.

A story about love and self revelation, director Kar Wai Wong’s first English language film is visually moody and dark. Cinematographer Darius Khnondji’s created the effect with blurred images and slow motion sequences. However prolonged dialogue in the café and in bars made the film feel like a theatre production with limited sets.

The film was not a vehicle for its impressive veteran cast to showcase their talent. The characters were poorly developed and felt one dimensional. Except for Natalie Portman, whose cherubic appearance makes her casting in emotionally troubled or morally questionable roles an interesting watch and Strathairn, whose portrayal as the distraught Arnie Copeland elicited compassion, the snapshots into the characters lives generated minimal interest. Nevertheless the character of Elizabeth was a successful choice for Norah Jones’ acting debut, her soulful spirit translated in film as effectively as in her music.

While those loyal to Wong will be relieved that he stayed true to the technique that made his foreign films, including In the Mood for Love, mainstream successes, it is not likely that this screenplay, co-written by Laurence Block, will endear Wong to a new English speaking fan base.