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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

2046 (2004) - Wong Kar-Wai

2046 is Wong Kar-Wai's follow up to 2000's In The Mood For Love. Having gone through a tumultuous production process of delays, rewrites, recasts, shutdowns and re-edits, the film was finally released in 2005.

Set in 1966, Chow Mo Wan (Tony Leung reprising his role from In The Mood For Love) returns to Hong Kong after spending some time in Singapore to forget the heartbreak he suffered after his affair with Su Li Zhen (Maggie Cheung). He no longer works as a newspaper columnist and has become a writer, creating erotic stories while engaging in affairs with plenty of women. Clearly the trauma of his relationship with Su Li Zhen has taken it's toll.
After escorting a performer back to her hotel room, number 2046, Chow feels drawn to the hotel, and the room in question. It's former occupant is seemingly murdered and Chow demands that he is allowed to occupy the room. However, it needs refurbishing, so the landlord allows Chow to take up residence in the neighboring room. Here, Chow observes and interacts with the occupants of room 2046, a number of women whom Chow becomes infatuated with.
The film centers on Chow's relationship with a hooker named Bai Ling (Ziyi Zhang) and the landlord's daughter (Faye Wong). After suffering a significant amount of emotional damage due to his relationship with Su Li Zhen, Chow treats Bai Ling with indifference, offering her money after sleeping with her and refusing her longing to take their relationship beyond casual sex. When Bai Ling leaves, Chow turns his attentions to the landlord's daughter, heartbroken when her Japanese lover leaves her. Chow takes it upon himself to help the girl through this, keeping his growing feelings for her to himself, a move that seems to torture him.

The most striking thing about 2046 is, as with In The Mood For Love, the amazing style in which it's presented. This is a film about love, loss and regret, and is presented in a dreamy atmosphere which makes it the perfect companion piece for Mood. The cinematography by Christopher Doyle (who has stated 2046 was his last collaboration with Wong Kar-Wai) is stunning, and Wong Kar-Wai's composition is perfectly matched to Doyle's style.
The film is intercut with scenes of the science fiction novel Chow is writing, set in 2046. And while these scenes are set in the future, and shot as such, they are not at all jarring, and compliment the rest of the film perfectly. The acting from Leung and Zhang is excellent while being subdued. Chow is a slick character, a changed man from In The Mood For Love, but Leung still retains the subtlety in his performance he brought to the previous film.

Once again, Wong Kar-Wai has created a fantastic piece of dreamy cinema. His choice of music is perfect to the imagery which is possibly the biggest draw of the film. While I didn't find the film as tightly edited and slick as In The Mood For Love, it is a fantastic sequel to that film. But make sure you see them in order to get the full effect.


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