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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 10.26%
Just Average: 10.26%
Pretty Crappy: 5.13%
Sucks: 2.56%

3 reviews, 21 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"Does not, in fact, take place 80 years after 'In the Mood for Love'."
5 stars

Though 2046 is a sequel to In the Mood for Love, one needn't see the prior film in order to enjoy this one. Indeed, I wish I had written my review of this film immediately after seeing it, since I would not see In the Mood for Love for another week and a half, and could thus discuss why I feel it works on its own without the bits of that other masterpiece coloring it. But it's too late for that, and in a way that's fitting - my feelings for one must inevitably color what I feel for the other.

Chow Mo Wan (Tony Leung) is returning to Hong Kong after spending a few years in Singapore. He moves into a hotel, asking for room 2046. It's unavailable, so he takes 2047. 2046 is occupied by a showgirl he'd met in Singapore, Lulu (Carina Lau), who doesn't recognize him. She leaves after one of her boyfriends attacks her, and the next occupant of the room is Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi), a beautiful call girl. They talk, hit it off, and soon she's keeping the money he insists on paying her separate. Between tenants, 2046 is occupied by the landlord's daughter, Jing Wen (Faye Wong), where she can secretly read her pulp novels, along with the letters from the Japanese boyfriend (Takuya Kimura) that her father forbids her to see.

Interspersed among these stories are two others - the tale of the Spider Woman (Gong Li), a notorious gambler who helped Chow win the money to return from Singapore, and bits from "2046", the science fiction story that Chow and Jing Wen write together (though it is published under Chow's name, Jing Wen seems to do much of the actual writing). In this story, there are trains from the present to 2046, which is so peaceful and perfect that no-one, save the narrator of the tale, has ever returned. In the story, the boyfriend, Tak, is the one returning, Jing Wen is a serving robot, and her father (Wang Sum) is the train's conductor.

Those who have seen In the Mood for Love will immediately recognize what apartment 2046 means for Chow, but the rest can intuit most of it. That he asks for a specific number indicates it has meaning to him; it's clearly tied in with the love of his life, and though saying he'll stay in 2047 initially sounds like he's moved on, he really hasn't. He's still where he can keep an eye on 2046, and still getting himself tied up with those women. And, of course, in the story, 2046 is a place and time from which no-one would return.

Leung's Chow is a broken man who hides it well. It's at times difficult to know whether he's cynical or just defeated. You don't, after all, find "once in a lifetime" twice, by definition. Is he just guarded, because his previous romance ended badly, is he genuinely cold, or has he had his guard up for so long that he can no longer remember another way to act? There's kindness in him, as he makes the effort to deflect his lecherous co-worker's interest in Bai Ling, but also cruelty, as he breaks it off with her once he realizes how genuine her feelings for him are. Above all, Tony Leung does a great job projecting the kind of coolness that most men wish they could display, but also makes it clear what a hollow affectation it is.

The women are warmer, but not always by much. Gong Li's "Spider Woman" is just as self-possessed as Chow, but it seems much closer to her true self. There may be more emotion beneath the cool veneer of this gambling goddess, but if there is, she's locked it away tighter than Chow has. Carina Lau's Lulu is merely young and reckless, not yet able to conceive of genuine risk. She's used to being able to get what she needs with her beauty. She doesn't remember Chow initially because there had been no need to remember him.

The other two, though, are more worthy of the audience's affection. Zhang Ziyi softens even as Chow pulls away; what starts out as banter smoothly becomes words of affection, and part of what makes her break with Chow painful is that she has come to believe not just in him, but in herself. I found myself most drawn to Faye Wong's Jing, perhaps because she has the most life outside of her encounters with Chow. She's more interested in him as a writer than as a man, and doesn't seem to realize that he may be infatuated with her. How could he be, if he's volunteered to act as a go-between for her and Tak? She's sometimes as youthfully oblivious as Lulu or her own younger sister, but there's at least charm to how she enjoys her pulps, and how seriously she takes the task of writing one.

Like many of Wong Kar Wai's films, much of the action is basically interior, with the struggle going on in Chow's heart and head. Still, the film remains visually rich, in part due to working with long-time cinematographer Christopher Doyle. By now, they've made several movies set in this time and place - 1960s Hong Kong - and the style may seem somewhat familiar - the dark suits, the wet-down streets, the slightly greenish-gold cast to the lighting. As this visualization is partly an invention of the filmmakers, so is their future - it consists of a nice-looking CGI image and minimalist sets, a design created by twenty-first century filmmakers as opposed to a pulp writer from the 1960s.

Their fondness for mirrors is evident, but fitting - Chow isn't going to wear his heart on his sleeve, so the movie trains the audience to view the characters indirectly. They also use the widescreen frame in interesting ways; there are a number of scenes where Chow and Jing Wen are speaking on the hotel's roof, and must stand almost on top of each other, but the camera pulls back, crowding them on the side of the screen. It's a peculiar combination of forced and voluntary intimacy.

I'm eagerly awaiting this film's official U.S. release; seeing it on an import DVD got me the basic story, but seeing it on film will be even better. Not to mention being able to have In the Mood for Love in mind while I watch it, rather than making connections afterward.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10337&reviewer=371
originally posted: 05/14/05 00:21:41
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/09/14 Anthony Could you transfer $1000 from my current account to my deposit account? <a href=" htt 3 stars
10/23/14 Hannah It's a bad line <a href=" ">order bimatoprost without prescription to ship overnight</a> 5 stars
3/27/07 fools&#9835;gold Visually and musically arresting, and the ideas had remarkable potentials. 4 stars
11/15/06 Brian O'Neill I had to lie down after watching this film for the first time. There were many more times. 5 stars
11/02/06 Pearce Beautiful. Like Godard with a budget. 5 stars
10/19/06 William Goss Ambitious and admirable, but ultimately dense and detached. Some great kisses, though. 3 stars
7/20/06 Stuff Hello! 5 stars
4/30/06 millersxing Space opera set apart by avant garde approach to time and space and delightful visual flair 5 stars
2/10/06 Rocky Hypnotic and mesmerizing, it stirred so many emotional memories within me...WOW. 5 stars
2/03/06 Reklc Beautiful, but not as god as its predecessor, just to messy at times. 4 stars
11/21/05 Reuben Well, it looks great. But it _feels_ about 100 years long: pretty self-indulgent IMHO 2 stars
9/11/05 2046 sucks what a sucks movie with sucks casts 1 stars
8/18/05 rich I wish I read Seaver's review b4 seeing it. Would've helped understand what was going on. 2 stars
5/31/05 Ken sit back and enjoy this cinematic opera 5 stars
5/23/05 conti the new 'citizen kane' 5 stars
5/21/05 Charlene Javier This film left me clueless... 3 stars
5/21/05 Nick Williams Beautiful!! 5 stars
5/16/05 Keanu Reeves Woah! 5 stars
12/07/04 Lily was expecting a little moe than In the mood for Love....but it was still a credible effort. 4 stars
9/30/04 kk could not live up to my expection of In the Mood of love sequel 3 stars
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  05-Aug-2005 (R)
  DVD: 26-Dec-2005



Directed by
  Kar Wai Wong

Written by
  Kar Wai Wong

  Tony Leung Chiu Wai
  Li Gong
  Takuya Kimura
  Faye Wong
  Zhang Ziyi
  Carina Lau

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