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A Hong Kong writer finds inspiration from the women he's encountered in his past in this futuristicstory of love and memory from Wong Kar Wai, who continues the story he began in his acclaimed masterpiece In the Mood for Love. Remembering back to the early 1960s, when he lived in the Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong, Chow (Hero's Tony Leung) writes an erotic story that begins with a mysterious woman who lived in room 2046. Chow moves into room 2047 and begins an affair with a beautiful prostitute who now rents the mysterious woman's room. As he writes his story, which he sets in the future year 2046, Chow tells of a place where people travel to recapture lost memories; he is the first one to return. Nominated for the Golden Palm Award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, 2046 also stars Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Gong Li (Memoirs of a Geisha) and Maggie Cheung (Hero).
In Wong Kar Wai's quasi-sequel to In the Mood for Love, 2046 is a hotel room, a futuristic story, and a state of mind. Tony Leung returns as Chow, but perhaps not the same Chow who appeared in the first film. Starting three years later in 1966, we see Chow on various Christmases as he lives, loves, and writes in a hotel and nearby restaurants. Although he is less sensitive and more of a ladies man now, Chow's love life always seems to exceed his grasp. Whether the character is the same (the director calls this an "echo" of the first movie) might be trivial. Hong Kong filmmaker Wai is such a visualist (Time magazine tabbed him as the "world's most romantic filmmaker"), the images wash over with swirling smoke, neon lights, and the faces of his outstanding cast, all lovingly photographed and smoothly scored. There's a lot more going on than the visuals, and Wai's fans will certainly find more and more details on repeated viewings. We travel into Chow's futuristic story, where the acquaintances become fictional characters traveling to a place where "everyone goes" to recapture lost memories. Often Chow talks about never seeing a lover ever again, but eventually bumps into her. The final result is a film some will cherish; others will long for the more traditional storyline of the first film. Wai certainly finds a new direction for actress Ziyi Zhang (House of Flying Daggers) as a prostitute who becomes one of Chow's many lovers. And Leung continues to be one of the world's great film actors, with a face and acting style the camera just loves. --Doug Thomas
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Top Customer Reviews
A film of unfulfilled love is a universal theme that has touched all of us in some way. The soundtrack to this film is like a character behind the scenes watching the others, observing the humanity that we all have. A visually beautiful film that will reach those emotions that you thought you had forgotten.
First, without subtitles everyone speaks their own language (so one person might speak mandarin to someone speaking Japanese); so a lot of reviewers got confused. The DVD HAS SUBTITLES and is therefore easy to follow.
The theme is about how a sad romantic past (a lost true love) can leave you emotionally "out of sync" unless you understand that by trying to recapture your past feelings, you are cutting off your ability to fall in love because your emotional anchor is looking backward. You see, the past is fixed, so it cannot change -- you can rely on the past, but the future because it is not establish fact yet, makes one feel powerless to affect the outcomes. So people just "give up" because there are too many variables that would need to come together to make that "perfect feeling of love" to happen again.
2046 is a summation of two other movies this Director made .. "In the Mood for Love", primarily; but also "Days of Being Wild". In the Mood for Love's main link is the hotel room number 2046, which is the room where the lovers met. The love affair does not have a happy ending because the conditions needed to make it work seem outside their control, so they break up. So you see the pattern being questioned in 2046 -- we ponder that "timing is important" but do we surrender any impact on future timing by giving up on finding true love.
In 2046; there are several stories, but the one involving Miss Wang (Faye Wong) and her Japanese boyfriend, is essentially a simpler version of the story the main character went through in "In the Mood for Love".Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
2046 appears at first to be a year in the future, but is ultimately revealed to be the number of a hotel room where Chow had his one chance at happiness. He finds a modicum of that innocence once again, this time in 2047, with a different woman (the daughter of the innkeeper, played by Wang Faye), the only one he treats with anything like the affection he had for the woman who had shared (platonically) 2046 with him earlier. He writes a story for her, called 2047. She says she likes it, but wishes it had a happier ending, something fans of Wong Kar Wai sometimes long for, but realize would not be true to that which goes on during his stories.
Aside from Tony Leung's masterful performance, 2046 is the perfect platform for the greatest Chinese actresses of today, demonstrating once again that no one can break your heart like Maggie Cheung, no one can make you happy like Wang Faye, no one can be a [...]like Zhang Zi Yi (albeit one that can still have her heart broken because she uses a hard exterior in a vain attempt to protect a brittle interior) and no one could ever be as beautiful as Gong Li.
Like most of Wong Kar Wai's movies, the ending can be called bittersweet at best. He has only had one semi-happy ending, in Chungking Express, which also featured Tony Leung and Wang Faye (the only other time she has appeared in one of his movies). This time, the only character who ends up happy is Wang Faye's, largely due to Tony Leung's intervention. I don't know if that is a coincidence, or perhaps a comment on the fact that it isn't really possible to have anything but a happy ending when her luminous cheeks and eyes bless the screen. For all of the other characters, however, we see much of the same unfulfilled longings and reconciliation to the alienation so many feel toward their families, friends and lovers.
Each of Wong Kar Wai's films has built up to this ultimate piece on what it means to be human and to know other humans. You should really watch all of them, but even if you just watch this one, you will be the richer for it.
The first thing you have to remember when you watch 2046 is that there is not a conventional story line here. In fact, the haphazard nature of the film's scenes--past, present, future, imagined and "real"--don't even make sense in their own illogical framework. You have to know this going in because if you strain to make sense of the plot--as we have all been conditioned to do--you will miss the point. Indeed, I had to watch this a couple of times.
The film consists of a series of scenes primarily focusing on a Chinese writer named Chow. He is in Singapore, and leaves a beautiful woman behind who may or may not have loved him. He is in Hong Kong, and falls for another beautiful woman who is murdered in her hotel room. He tells the hotel-keeper that he wishes to move into this room--2046--because he is evidently trying to return to this place in his mind and his heart. Of course, he can't, literally or figuratively, so he is given the room next door. He begins an affair with a prostitute who moves into 2046 and who loves him with every fiber of her being. He uses her as a prostitute only. He falls in love with the hotel-keeper's daughter who herself is in love with a distant Japanese man her father despises. He writes a science-fiction piece--visualized in the film and entitled 2046--which is a story of the future and a train on which female androids serve one but with whom one must never fall in love, and on which he imagines himself to be Japanese.
Ehh, no, this is not a coherent storyline. The future is mixed with the past which is mixed with the present which is mixed with his story which is mixed up with his imagination. In the end, it occurs that it is entirely possible that all of these women are the same person; that they are simply some ideal of love he has concocted in his mind. Maybe not.
Visually, the film is a stunner. Every scene, every backdrop, every set-piece is carefully and meticulously orchestrated. Cigarette smoke drifting above a cluttered desk; a beautifully-clothed female form asleep on a bed; cards laid out on a green table in a dark restaurant: you could paint these scenes and hang them in an art museum. The framing device is also very artful. It is constrained and prevents us from seeing what we want to see. It is hard to comprehend. More importantly, the attention that is being paid to these details and the beauty with which they are rendered concentrates the viewer's attention: something incredibly important is going on. This feeling is reinforced by the musical score--opera and classical mostly--which drifts in and out plaintively.
The acting, from the smaller to the larger roles, is spectacular. So much is going on beyond that which is said, and beyond that which is implied. All of the actors and actresses are superb, but special mention must be paid to Ziyi Zheng, who plays the prostitute, and who burns a hole in the screen every time she appears on it. She is an un-erupted volcano of barely restrained emotion: thin, beautiful, lonely, sensual, and terribly, terribly sad.
In the end, and without perhaps realizing it, we understand that the film works as a statement on the human condition, and the clumsy, random way we try to seek happiness in it. We recognize true love after our chance for it is over, or after our previous actions have rendered it impossible. Or maybe because we failed to recognize it altogether. Or maybe because we are not Japanese, or younger, or older. Complete, unfettered happiness only exists in 2046, a room we cannot enter; a year that is in an unfathomably distant future.
That this film is an original and successful experiment with the medium, that it is so beautifully photographed and scored, that it is so perfectly acted, and that its grand themes are completely realized, make it one of the best films of the year, if not the decade.
Suffice to say, narrative is not the point - Wong's films are about pure experience; creating mood and atmosphere to lose yourself in. If you can tune in to his wavelength, the effect is rapturous.
The transfer on the new DVD is very fine, and is complemented by an impressive array of feautures which do a good job of conveying Wong's complex approach to his craft.
Now the movie. To me, "2046" is a metaphor for how the Chinese in Hong Kong would be feeling in the year 2046 when they will be fully under Chinese rule. Some who can't or won't accept change will ask why can't things go back to the way it was before, while others will embrace what the future holds. Something like that. Remember the owner telling Chow to stay in 2047 for a while and move to 2046 when the room was ready? Chow later says that he got used to 2047 and decided to stay.
The characters are culled from 2 previous WKW movies that loosely form this trilogy. Carina Lau is Lulu from "Days of Being Wild". Tony Leung also from that movie but only in the very last minute of the film, and of course, he was in "In the Mood for Love". He not only gets to act with his beautiful real-life girlfriend, Carina, but his other female co-stars are also legendary beauties in Asian cinema. Maggie Cheung/Su Lichen is only in a dream sequence, Faye Wong/owner's daughter (this is only her second WKW film) whom Chow has grown affection for, but willing to let her (HK) go, Zhang Ziyi/Bai Ling (a new addition to WKW's stable of muses) who loves Chow (HK) unconditionally whatever his flaws, and Gong Li/Black Spider who wants to go with him but is stuck in the past.
The film is presented in 3 viewpoints: the present "real life" in which Chow is the womanizer who can't be pinned down because of how much he still loves Su Lichen in ITMFL and she is the yardstick by which all future relationships are measured. The futuristic scenes are when he is writing his sci-fi novel and his "real life" people and experiences work their way into the novel. Also, when he can't deal with real life, he goes to his novel and integrates recent real life events into the novel to help make sense of it all. Then there is the one or two dream sequences for when he is narrating his thoughts to us, the viewer.
I'm sure this is only the surface of the many layers this wonderful movie has to explore. I look forward to "getting" more of it with each new viewing.
p.s. after reading others' reviews, I must add that the room in this movie is not the same as in ITMFL, but it does have the same room number which, when it gets his attention, Chow is transported back to the remembrance of the love of his life.
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