Published Aug 01, 2005Wong Kar-Wai's long-awaited 2046 finally reaches North American screens. Heralded as the sequel to 2000's acclaimed In The Mood For Love, 2046 is in fact a summation of Wong's entire career. The film revives faces from Days of Being Wild (Carina Lau as Lulu), Chungking Express (Faye Wong), Eros (a short film featuring Gong Li) and In The Mood For Love (Tong Leung). Like those films, 2046 features WKW's trademark slow-motion shots, moody shadows and sumptuous interiors as designed and photographed by Wong's long-time collaborators, William Chang and Chris Doyle.
Set in late '60s Hong Kong, 2046 is told in a series of bittersweet vignettes connected by narrator Chow Mo Wan (Leung). He plays Wong's alter ego, a writer who imagines a train that carries people to 2046 so that they can recapture their lost memories. Leung plays matchmaker between Faye Wong and her lover, whom Faye's bigoted father rejects because he's Japanese. In another episode, Leung stirs sad memories of an old lover (Andy Lau in Days of Being Wild) whom Lulu (an older yet haunting Carina Lau) knew but who died young. Gong Li plays a mysterious gambler in a sequence that ends abruptly but burns with sexual tension between her and Leung. The film's centrepiece however is Leung's affair with a coquettish, temperamental neighbour, as played by Zhang Ziyi in her most impressive performance. Zhang is flirty, possessive and callous, but meets her match in the unflappable Leung.
These sequences are interwoven with flashes from the imaginary 2046, which slow down the film and contribute little to the overall story. This flaw aside, 2046 is a remarkable showcase of China's finest actresses who altogether make 2046 a haunting meditation on love, longing and memory as envisioned by Wong, hailed as this generation's Fellini. Rumour has it that this may be Wong's last collaboration with ace lens man Doyle. I hope not, for it would be a grave loss to moviegoers around the world. (Mongrel Media)