out of Five
Running time: 125
Beautifully shot, hypnotic film with a terrific soundtrack and lovely performances – it wanders a bit towards the end, but by then you’ll be happy to go along with it.
One of the most eagerly-awaited films in recent memory, Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046 has been responsible for more festival-related wailings and gnashings of teeth than any other film this year. First it was shown in an allegedly disappointing unfinished cut at Cannes and then it was pulled from the Edinburgh festival at the last minute; the same thing then happened with a planned showing at the NFT earlier this year.
However, the good news is that it’s finally completed and London Film Festival audiences will be among the first to see the finished film before it opens nationwide early next year.
A Sequel Of Sorts…
The film is a sequel of sorts to In The Mood For Love, the film that many consider to be Wong Kar-Wai’s masterpiece. Tony Leung reprises his role as Chow Mo-wan, a writer who returns to Hong Kong after the events of the previous film, holes himself up in a low-rent hotel and writes columns and trashy serials for the newspapers.
While he’s there, Chow develops quite an eye for the laydeez and soon picks up a reputation as a bit of a ladies’ man, something that makes him quite attractive to his gold-digging neighbour in room 2046, a beautiful Chinese girl named Miss Bai (Ziyi Zhang). However, when their relationship gets too close, Chow pushes her away and, haunted by his past memories he begins to write a sci-fi story about people who take an endless train journey to a mysterious destination, in order to recapture their lost memories.
2046 is a beautifully photographed, hazy, hypnotic blend of science-fiction and nostalgia. Towards the end of the film the boundaries between the two become confusing and the film meanders considerably as a result, but Wong creates such a compelling atmosphere that you’ll be happy to surrender yourself to the film and enjoy the journey it takes you on.
Extremely Good Performances
The performances are extremely good; Tony Leung is impossibly cool, despite his somewhat reprehensible behaviour and the fact that he seems to leave every woman he meets in floods of – admittedly very pretty - tears. In contrast, Ziyi Zhang is impossibly hot – she has never looked more beautiful or alluring than she does here.
There are also brief appearances from Maggie Cheung (again, reprising her character in tantalising glimpses), Gong Li (as a mysterious gambler who falls for Chow) and Faye Wong (from Chungking Express) as Chow’s landlord’s daughter, with whom he has a platonic relationship.
There’s a lot to enjoy here, including a haunting soundtrack and a wealth of little visual details; there are many wonderful moments that will stay with you long after the film ends. Highlights include: Ziyi Zhang wiping away a single tear with her little finger; Ziyi Zhang catching sight of her happy face in the mirror and realising that she’s in love; and the futuristic tale of the man who falls for the android with ‘delayed’ emotions.
In short, 2046 isn’t as fully realised a film as In The Mood For Love, but it’s still an extremely rich visual and emotional experience. Highly recommended.