2046 (2004)

There’s a lot of filmmaking artistry to appreciate, and so is the sizzling chemistry between Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi in this follow-up to In the Mood for Love (2000).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #303

Dir. Wong Kar Wai
2004 | Hong Kong | Drama/Romance/Sci-Fi | 128 mins | 2.35:1 | Cantonese, Japanese & Mandarin
NC16 (passed clean) for sexual content

Cast: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Ziyi Zhang, Faye Wong, Gong Li, Chang Chen, Carina Lau
Plot: Chow Mo-Wan was a writer. He thought he wrote about the future but it really was the past. In his novel, a mysterious train left for 2046 every once in a while. Everyone who went there had the same intention: to recapture their lost memories. It was said that in 2046, nothing ever changed.
Awards: Nom. for Palme d’Or (Cannes)

Source: Block 2 Distribution

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Time, Memory, Love
Narrative Style: Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: DVD
First Published: 13 Jul 2008
Spoilers: No

Wong Kar Wai’s 2046, his most anticipated film after the critical success of In the Mood for Love (2000), interestingly arrived late for its scheduled screening during the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.  There were rumors that he wasn’t satisfied with the final cut and had to do re-edits till the last minute. 

Thankfully, he did not have to pay the full price for his indecisiveness, though there are moments in 2046 that hints on this. Though it wasn’t quite well-received by the critical body (relative to his previous work), 2046 is unmistakably a Wong Kar Wai picture.

2046 is often seen as the ‘unofficial’ sequel to In the Mood for Love.  Yes, some of the characters share the same names, and both movies revolve around the themes of love and lust in an old-world hotel, but the similarities end there. 

2046 explores the futuristic realm which In the Mood for Love is unable to deviate to.  From my perspective, 2046 is almost like an experimental Wong Kar Wai film, who probably felt that the story of its ‘prequel’ could be expanded upon.

“Love is all a matter of timing.”

The film has two timelines that reflect the scene of 1960s Hong Kong as well as Wong’s vision of Hong Kong nine decades later.  Using CG effects for the bullet-train sequences in the latter timeline, Wong examines the concept of emotions in androids. 

Do androids have the capacity to feel love?  Do they experience loneliness?  These are concepts that have been aptly explored by Steven Spielberg in A.I: Artificial Intelligence (2001).  Wong correctly leaves question marks hanging because I believe it’s not the movie’s intention to address such issues.

The cinematography of each scene is top-notch.  As expected from a Wong Kar Wai picture, we are treated to striking neon colors, beautiful retro oriental costumes, and the occasional spiraling smoke from a lighted cigar. 

The sizzling chemistry between the two leads Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi is the highlight of 2046, and despite the film being paced slower than a glacier, it is difficult not to like the film because there is a lot of filmmaking artistry to appreciate. 

Grade: B+




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