Chungking Express offers two parallel stories of love and loss brought together by a dine-and-dash eatery. In the first half of the film, a detective (Takeshi Kaneshiro) stops in at the local greasy food dive while pining over his lost love. And in the second half, a beat street cop (Tony Leung) stops in while also pining over his lost love. Although Kaneshiro's desperation and tragic romanticism sparks our interest in the first story of the film, it's the second story that really captures our attention. The power of that second story line comes from Faye Wong, who invades the screen (and Tony Leung's) apartment with childish charm and an obsession with the Mama's and Papa's "California Dreaming."
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This time, Tony Leung's Chow Mo-Wan is far from the repressed creature that he played in Love, eternally suffering for the married beauty living in his apartment building. Mo-Wan is now going through all the highs and lows of numerous affairs in 1960s Hong Kong, playing out almost an entire history of love within the space of one film. The title comes from the number of the apartment next to his, wherein reside a number of women with whom we will see him become entangled over the course of the film. 2046 is also the name of a science fiction serial he scribbles down (part of the dues he pays as a struggling hack writer), scenes of which we see acted out, watching its hero endure an eternal train ride away from the mysterious place called 2046, where everybody goes to reclaim lost memories and never returns from; except him.
Continue reading: 2046 Review
Another achingly evocative and melancholy near-masterpiece from virtuoso writer-director Wong Kar-Wai, "2046" is breathtakingly beautiful and lush with color, narratively dense and psychologically complex, and blessed with vivid, visceral performances that burst at the seams with reserved passion.
Its tender yet abrasive story catches up with Chow (Tony Leung), one of the broken-hearted lovers from Wong's unforgettable "In the Mood for Love," years after the affair that redefined his life has ended. Now a cold, slippery, charming, Brylcreem-ed playboy, newspaper hack and pulp writer in 1960s Hong Kong, he lives a film-noir life (complete with gritty voice-over and dark wit) in a semi-seedy hotel, across the hall from Room 2046 where he once spent the night with the love of his life. Lately the room has been occupied by a string of beautiful women (Gong Li, Faye Wong and Zhang Ziyi among them), and Chow seduces (or is seduced by) each of them in turn, often with unforeseen emotional consequences.
These liaisons and the quiet turmoil they produce in his leathered soul serve as fuel for Chow's latest dime novel, a highly symbolic science-fiction story of ardent rebel activists and android women incapable of love, set largely onboard a bullet train speeding on elevated tracks through worldwide skyscraper canyons in the year 2046. (The title -- which is also the year China's promise of sovereignty for Hong Kong expires -- crops up many times.)
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