2046

"Extraordinary"

2046 Review


Picking up where In the Mood for Love dropped off, but also mixing in elements of (or at least nods to) just about all of his other films, Wong Kar Wai's 2046 has most of the same positives, as well as the negatives, common to his work, meaning it's frustrating, elliptical, occasionally quite shallow, and utterly smashing to behold in all its nervy glory.

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.

In between these segments is something more familiar to lovers of Love: a richly documented love affair between Leung, a number of gorgeous actresses, and the art of cinema itself. There are filmmakers who can have their actors take well-decorated and nicely-lit poses in mod clothing while smoking cigarettes, but still leave such scenes mostly inert (Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy comes to mind). Wong's skill is that he is able to shuffle together a seemingly static series of images and bring them ecstatically to life. The film's richly layered look (courtesy of three cinematographers) and century-spanning soundtrack (from opera to Latin dances to Nat King Cole) creates a world in which Leung's moody longings over and passionate clutches with the women who swoon in and out of his life becomes a thing in and of itself. There is drama aplenty, from affairs to gambling debts and murder, though it can seem to move as slow as dripping molasses. Which is just fine, really, all the more time to watch cigarette smoke curling towards a ruined ceiling, the shifting of colors on the women's chic, high-necked dresses, the smile that occasionally drifts across Leung's rakish womanizer's face; like most of Wong's work, 2046 is ultimately more narcotic than cinema, and another hit is always welcome.

There's a strong possibility that this film is Wong's summing up of his career so far, the ultimate expression of his sinuous vision and perhaps a goodbye to it. There are allusions (some overt, others less so) to his earlier work, from Love to Fallen Angels and even Ashes of Time, his gonzo 1994 martial arts film, which played with time and memory almost as much as 2046 does. With all this self-referencing comes the occasional whiff of repetition as well, which lingers no matter how many amazing actresses Wong is able to pack into one film -- Gong Li is, no surprise, perfectly adept in her role as a black widow gambler, but it's Ziyi Zhang, carrying on a long and doomed affair with Leung, who really shines here, refining her usual bratty impatience to a more distilled performance that's nothing less than heartbreaking.

At some point, that thing which Wong Kar Wai does - whatever the hell it is - will become tiresome and rote, but fortunately for all those craving such overwhelmingly romantic filmmaking, that point seems still a long time away.

She's in the mood for sci-fi.



2046

Facts and Figures

Run time: 129 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 29th September 2004

Box Office USA: $1.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $19.3M

Budget: $12M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Paradis Films, Orly Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 96 Rotten: 17

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Chow Mo-Wan, Zhang Ziyi as Bai Ling, as Wang Jing Wen, Takuya Kimura as Tak, as Su Li-Zhen, as Lulu/Mimi, Siu Ping-Lam as Ah Ping, as Su Li-Zhen, Dong Jie as Wang Jie Wen, Bird McIntyre as Bird, as cc 1966, Wong Sam as Mr Wang

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.