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Overall Rating
4.44

Awesome71.79%
Worth A Look: 10.26%
Average: 10.26%
Pretty Bad: 5.13%
Total Crap: 2.56%

3 reviews, 21 user ratings



2046
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by Peter Sobczynski

"So Wong and So Right"
5 stars

Can a film critic in all good conscience dub a film a masterpiece if he or she has no real idea of what the film in question is supposed to be about? I ask this because I have seen Wong Kar Wai’s “2046" several times now over the space of the last few months and I still don’t feel as though I am even close to understanding what it is all about. I feel comfortable in admitting this fact because this is a film that may well be, thanks to its infamous production history and Wong’s tendency towards more oblique narratives, completely unknowable. And yet, I am not so sure that the fact that I don’t quite understand it really makes a difference because it is a feast for the eyes and ears on a level that is almost staggering to behold–though to dismiss it as nothing more than eye candy would do both Wong and his film a great disservice.

In production for over five years–a period interrupted by the production of another feature (“In the Mood for Love”), a short (his contribution to the triptych “Eros”), the 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong and the destruction and rebuilding of a half-million-dollar set after a journalist published some clandestine photos–the film premiered at Cannes in 2004 to mixed-to-rapturous reviews that inspired Wong (who cut his deadline so close that the print of the film arrived at the festival only three hours before the already-delayed screening time) to recut and restructure the entire thing a couple of times before finally sending it out into the world–this would mean that all of the pieces written about the film back then, and it was the hot title at that year’s festival, were about a work that no longer existed..

What was once rumored to be a science-fiction tale was now a semi-sequel to “In the Mood for Love” (a film that hadn’t even been made when production started) that also touched upon elements from many of Wong’s other works. (Apparently, the linking of the film with “In the Mood for Love” was made much more explicit in the restructuring.) Although Wong has become known over the years for his chaotic and extended shooting schedules–which he occasionally punctuates by tossing off an entirely different film in a period of a couple of week in the meantime–the production of “2046" instantly became the stuff of legend. I interviewed Tony Leung, the film’s star and, as a long-time collaborator of Wong’s, a man not unfamiliar with his idiosyncratic shooting style, and even he still seemed a little shell-shocked about the whole thing.

Picking up roughly where “In the Mood for Love” left off, Tony Leung reprises the character of Mr. Chow, a pulp writer who himself involved in a reticent relationship with neighbor Su Li Zhen (Maggie Cheung) that ended sadly. No longer the emotionally remote man of the original, he believes that he has transformed himself into a lusty Lothario who now prefers to love and leave the ladies without ever getting close to them again so that he can never again suffer heartbreak. What he doesn’t seem to realize, or does and refuses to acknowledge, is that the women that he does become involved with to varying degrees–a femme fatale known as the Black Spider (Gong Li), a former girlfriend (Carina Lau) who briefly reappears and disappears, a friendly prostitute (Ziyi Zhang) and his landlord’s daughter (Faye Wong)–are reminiscent of Su Li Zhen, or at least the way that he remembers her in his mind. In the varying ways that he deals with them, he is, of course, really trying to work through his grief at the loss of a perfect love and his despair at ever feeling emotions so deep again.

Of course, I am making the story sound a lot more compact and straightforward than it actually is because everything about “2046" is oblique, starting with the title and the numerous ways in which it can be interpreted. On the one hand, 2046 is the number of the hotel room that he once shared with Su Li–he tries to get that same room again but, due to “renovations,” he can only get as close as 2047. On the other hand, 2046 is also the title of the sci-fi novel that he is writing (illustrated for us in a few jaw-dropping shots) about a future land where people travel in order to relive old memories since nothing ever changes there–the hitch is that no one ever seems to return from there either. Finally, 2046 refers to the last of the fifty years after the 1997 takeover that the Chinese promised Hong Kong would remain the same as it had been–or at least how it was remembered to have been, even if the perception of how it was is quite different from the reality. These multiple levels of interpretation are on display in every scene and, when seen for the first time, can be almost overwhelming to most viewers. This is one of those films where repeat viewings are pretty much mandatory for anyone who wants to see it.

What you don’t need repeat viewings to understand is that “2046" is one of the most formally beautiful films made in recent years. Despite being shot over a long period of time by no less than three cinematographers, there is not a single image on display here–the stunning look at the future world, the equally mesmerizing atmosphere of the hotel where much of the action takes place, the impossibly beautiful and haunting visions of love that are Gong Li, Faye Wong and Ziyi Zhang–that is less than utterly gorgeous to behold. Combine that with Wong’s unerring taste in soundtrack music and you have a lushly romantic riot of sight and sound that rivals even the glorious excesses of Francis Coppola’s “One from the Heart.” At a time when most filmmakers choose the simplest and most pedestrian visual means to tell their stories (even those willing to spend tons of money on visual extravagance), “2046" is a feast that film lovers will gorge on for a very long time.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10337&reviewer=389
originally posted: 09/02/05 14:29:39
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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

11/10/14 Anthony Could you transfer $1000 from my current account to my deposit account? <a href=" htt 3 stars
10/24/14 Hannah It's a bad line <a href=" ">order bimatoprost without prescription to ship overnight</a> 5 stars
3/01/11 PAUL SHORTT LUXURIOUS MUSE ON MEMORY AND UNSUCCESSFUL LOVE 4 stars
3/28/07 fools&#9835;gold Visually and musically arresting, and the ideas had remarkable potentials. 4 stars
11/16/06 Brian O'Neill I had to lie down after watching this film for the first time. There were many more times. 5 stars
11/03/06 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
2/11/06 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
9/12/05 2046 sucks what a sucks movie with sucks casts 1 stars
8/19/05 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
5/22/05 Charlene Javier This film left me clueless... 3 stars
5/22/05 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  05-Aug-2005 (R)
  DVD: 26-Dec-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-May-2005


Directed by
  Kar Wai Wong

Written by
  Kar Wai Wong

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



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