Film review by: Witney Seibold


Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046, is probably his best film to date, and I include the much-lauded In the Mood for Love in that statement. Ostensibly a follow-up to that film, 2046 is more a brother-in-spirit to all of Wong’s works, as it contains similar themes of love, loss, indifference, regret, pitting happiness against your own dubious nature, and women in really classy outfits and oddly beautiful beehive hairdos. 2046, though, expands on Wong’s usual romantic-pain fare, and expands, Dostoyevsky-like, in the pulp world of gamblers, spies in other apartments, sci-fi writers, and, in a series of narrative asides, actual science fiction.

The film follows Chow (Tony Leung), a gambler-turned-sci-fi-author in the 1960s, who unsuccessfully tries to move into the apartment where he first had an ill-fated affair with a call-girl (Gong Li). Apartment 2046. He ends up taking to room next door where he observes, through a hole in the wall, the goings-on in 2046. Over a series of Christmas Eves, Chow has a series of more ill-fated romances, all with women in said apartment. A tough call girl (the gorgeous Ziyi Zhang) stiffarms at first, be eventually capitulates. A naïf (Faye Wong) uses him to maintain a long distance relationship with a man in Japan, but ends up falling for him. And what Wong film would be complete without Maggie Cheung, sort of reprising her Mood of Love role. Each time a romance fails, Chow writes another chapter in his lurid sci-fi drama, also named 2046, where people escape, via train, to a fantasy land where time doesn’t move.


The film takes about 30 minutes to get going (Wong’s pacing can be maddening to the average action-junkie; he’s fond of slow-motion and operatic scores), but once Wong slips into his rhythm and beauty, we, the audience, finally can see what he is doing. We soon get a drama about a good-natured but shallow man, who doesn’t want romance to be in love, but seems to see love as a way of supporting how survivalist he can be; he bemoans his own romantic suffering, when he is clearly responsible for it. Chow is that rare character: the sympathetic bastard. All the women give fantastic performances in which they seem frustrated to be in love with this man who is almost ready to relate to a real person, but not quite.

And no review of a Wong film would be complete without a mention of Christopher Doyle, Wong’s cinematographer, one of the best working today. The way he captures the light, the glimmer of the dresses, the swish of hips, the starkly contrasted makeup, and (in this film) the androids and gaudy abstract colors of the future-world… it’s something to behold. 2046 may be one of the best films of the year.

Published in: on September 8, 2009 at 1:15 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Loved the film, we’re WKW fans too.

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