(2007) "At the end of that night," narrates Elizabeth (Norah Jones, who also sings on the soundtrack), "I decided to take the longest way to cross the street." A humble little picture, quite unobtrusive, hanging in a dark corner, directed by Kar Wai Wong (who co-wrote the script with Lawrence Block), waiting for someone to take a closer, longer, rewarding look at it.
At Café Kdyuck in New York City, Elizabeth inquires of the owner Jeremy (Jude Law) if her boyfriend's eaten there recently: two plates of porkchops, shared with a lady. She leaves a set of keys behind for him, the boyfriend, who doesn't come by to pick them up. Other keys are collected in a jar, each having a story, including Jeremy's of a Russian girlfriend who disappeared into a sunset while he waited in one place.
Elizabeth keeps coming back, night after night, watching highlights from security-camera tapes and eating blueberry pie - at the end of the day, says Jeremy, there's "always a whole blueberry pie left untouched."
Then she suddenly, heartbroken, departs on a bus, ending up (57 days after leaving her keys with Jeremy) 1120 miles since New York in Memphis, Tennessee, waitressing at a diner during the day and in Travis's bar at night, trying to save enough money to buy a car.
In the bar Lizzy makes acquaintance with Arnie Copeland - an alcoholic cop, "king of the [sobriety] white chips," generous with his tips - whose younger, unfaithful (they're separated) wife Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz) he threatens with his gun as she's about to leave the tavern ("PULL" says the door).
She sends Jeremy postcards without a return address; thoughts of blueberry pie serve as her sobriety chips. The sunset girl Katya (Chan Marshall) pays Jeremy a brief visit on her way to the airport on the 185th day and 3906 miles since Lizzy left.
At the Hotel Nevada casino (5603 miles since New York on day 251) Beth watches Leslie (Natalie Portman) play poker - "You can be cheap or you can be lucky, but you can't be both" - before the gambling gal, in need of a $1000 to get back into the game, offers the waitress a proposition of either a third of her winnings or her fancy car (as collateral) in exchange for a loan of $2200 (all of Beth's savings). As they drive together to Las Vegas to see Leslie's dying father (who in raising her taught her to count by playing cards so that she first thought the number after ten was jack), the gamestress attempts to teach her trusting, gullible companion how to read people and leverage the table.
But Beth likes herself better with each person into whose face she looks for a reflection of herself. Three hundred days later she's back where she started but very different as a person.
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