Reviewed by: il_mare

December 12, 2004

Rating: five

Directed by : Kar Wai Wong
Writing credits : Kar Wai Wong (screenplay)

Premiere: May 20, 2004 Cannes, France
Asian release date : September 28, 2004
Runtime: France:129 min

Official website : www.wkw2046.com

Internation Trailer:

Genre : Drama / Romance / Sci-Fi

Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Chow Mo Wan
Gong Li as Su Lizhen aka Black Spider
Kimura Takuya as Tak
Faye Wong as Wang Jing Wen/wjw1967
Zhang Ziyi as Bai Ling
Carina Lau as Lulu/Mimi (remember the Lulu from "Days of Being Wild"? The clubgirl who loves Leslie Cheung character)
Chang Chen as cc1966
Wang Sum as Mr. Wang/Train Captain
Ping Lam Siu as Ah Ping (Chow's editor)
Maggie Cheung as slz1960
Thongchai McIntyre as Bird (as Thongchai McIntyre 'Bird')
Jie Dong as Wang Jie Wen


I am not a Wong Kar Wai (WKW) fan because I have trouble understanding his movies and I get a headache from the shaky filming methods of Chris Doyle. But I have to concede that "2046" is my favourite WKW movie! I think why I love it is because it tied up a lot of loose ends for me. Technically-speaking, you have to watch “Days of Being Wild’, “In the Mood for Love” and “2046” as a trilogy, as there are subtle similarities (for example, there is always a character called Su Lizhen in all 3 movies!) within them. After watching "2046", I finally understand the theme and the message that the director was trying to convey.

If "Days of Being Wild" is the rebellious teenager, and "In the Mood for Love" the conscientious young adult, then "2046" is the matured middle-ager, basking in its prime. Having dealt with the issues of growing up and finding oneself, it is time that security is achieved with one's existence and sexuality. I felt that “2046” is WKW’s closure message of the trilogy and the least abstract of his works. It bears his trademarks of stunning visuals, beautiful and authentic set creations, and criss-cross of movie sequences. Unlike “In the Mood for Love” (where it was basically just 2 leads walking around), “2046” was filled with many more characters, had more sub-plots and was definitely more erotic as it chronicled Mr Chow's various love encounters after his split from Mrs Chan. The surprise for WKW fans was the inclusion of a stylish futuristic sci-fi story. The sci-fi story was like a "unreal" world that Mr Chow escaped to for the purpose of seeking solace. It was in this fiction world that Mr Chow bared his inner soul.

“2046” can be viewed as a sequel to “In the Mood for Love”. It tells of the various love affairs and love interests of Mr Chow after he parted from Mrs Chan. I think he never really recovered from that love affair as I feel that he lost the ability to reach out and hold on to love. "2046" was Mr Chow's heartbreak hotel, a room number that he would always remember of the times he spent with Mrs Chan. It was also the name of his erotic novel where bits of his broken heart were scattered. It was sad because the director did not give any way out for his character’s devastatingly lonely predicament.

On the surface, Mr Chow was a playboy, bedding socialites and club girls to fill his meaningless days. Yet love crept unexpectedly into his life, but unfortunately, it played out in the same way and came at the wrong time again. His delayed reaction to Gong Li’s Su Lizhen, and his passivity towards Wang Jing Wen gave me this sense of helplessness and resignation.

I love the way the overall story was put together. Although the movie in many ways was made up of a very cliché theme (love), WKW managed to package it together such that you never realised that you were catching a simple story told in an extraordinary manner. That overall sense of missed opportunities was constantly felt through the entire movie, and it was linked by one question: "Will you leave with me?" Will you take that leap, and make that change? Yet the question was always posed to those who could not leave, while as those who wished to leave never got asked.

As a big fan of Tony Leung, I was happy to see him reprise a very different Mr Chow in this movie. I think the Mr Chow in “2046” was more difficult to portray, as compared to the Mr Chow of “In the Mood for Love”, since Leung had to shove all his yearning for love deep in his heart. So instead of a mild-mannered and lovelorn Mr Chow, you'd see a very flirtation and frivolous Mr Chow wearing his days away writing erotic novels and womanising. And because Mr Chow's inner emotions were only exposed in his stories (in turn portrayed by Kimura), it did not give much room for Leung to display that part of the character and perhaps limited the scope of his performance.

I felt that Kimura looked odd as Tak in the 60’s as he has too much of a modern appeal to fit the look of that era. But his image in the sci-fi story was outstanding! And he had a lot of chemistry with Faye Wong (despite the few scenes they had). Her android character was so cool, I felt she fitted her character to the tee! The only times genuine feelings of love were occasionally exhibited in "2046" came from this pair.

The relationship that Zhang Ziyi's Bai Ling shared with Mr Chow can only be described as a lustful encounter. And it was purely a physical connection that was never going to be elevated to anything else, although Bai Ling had hope for more. Zhang Ziyi also reprised the usual feisty character which she excels, as the socialite who loved Mr Chow. Her performance did not ignite much feeling in me, although the daring bed scenes she shared with Leung were the most talked-about in this movie.

Oddly enough, of all of Mr Chow’s love encounters, my favourite was the one with Gong Li (the one with the shortest screen time in the movie). The most memorable scene for me was the kissing scene Gong Li shared with Tony Leung. As he locked lips with her, the kiss was intense, deep, and overpowering. I thought the screen was just going to melt away as I watched Mr Chow’s lips connect passionately with Black Spider’s. Gong Li's eyes conveyed waves of emotions held back by her wall of tears, and as she looked at Mr Chow when she drew the Ace of Spade, my heart ached for her.

All the actors gave balanced and expected performances, but personally I give credit to the director for casting the right people in the right roles. And I give the biggest kudos to Wong Kar Wai. It is amazing how he managed to pull this off as Hong Kong is a place famous for her impatience and efficiency. Yet this director has defied all Hong Kong film-making norms and pulled in enough resources and investments to keep the production going to give us an entertaining and a beautiful movie.

I never thought I would say this, but he is one brilliant director and I am awed by his brilliance!

Trivial (credit imdb.com)

- Originally conceived as a story of a hitman in Bangkok. The hit man was to be played by Japanese superstar Kimura Takuya.

- Production was shut down during the SARS epidemic in March 2003.

- The print for Cannes, which was escorted by police, arrived three hours before the delayed premiere. It was the first film in Cannes' history to arrive so late and re-schedulings were necessary.

- The title of the film refers to the last year before the 50-year period the Chinese Government promised to let Hong Kong remain as it is. Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997.

- In one of the original versions, Tony Leung was to play a futuristic postman.

- The director declined the invitation to screen the film in the New York Film Festival.

- Was supposed to be the closing film of the Edinburgh Film Festival.

- The camera pointed to the left side of Faye Wong's face when she cries. She had problems crying with her right eye, so Wong Kar-Wai shot her crying scenes on the left side of her face.

- While "2046" was being filmed, a photographer from "Sudden Weekly", a Hong Kong tabloid, bribed his way onto the set. After his pictures of the interior of the Oriental Hotel were published, 'Wong Kar Wai' ordered the set to be rebuilt. The photographer was subsequently sentenced to three months' jail for corruption.

Add your own review and become a featured critic on spcnet.tv!

Buy Now

A Hero Born (Legend of the Condor Heroes)Jin Yong English Translation Book 1

A Bond Undone (Legend of the Condor Heroes)Jin Yong English Translation Book 2

Buy Locca Boba Tea Kit

Love bubble tea?DIY Boba Tea Set