foreign films

Made in: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Starring: Tony Leung Chieu Wai, Zhang Ziyi, Faye Wong, Gong Li, Takuya Kimura, Ping Lam Siu, Wang Sum
Year: 2004

Synopsis: In this sequel to Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love, Tony Leung Chiu Wai returns as the heartbroken Chow Mo-Wan. Although it follows some sort of continuity from the previous film, 2046 stands on its own as a complex, segmented study of the agony and joy of being in love. The year is 1966. Chow, who's a writer, returns to Hong Kong and becomes a womanizer. He has flings with various women before dumping them and moving on. Staying at a hotel owned by Mr. Wang (Wang Sum), he encounters the different occupants of room 2046 that go on to heavily influence his writing.

Much of the story deals with a science fiction story written by Chow, in which a train goes to a city called 2046. In that place, people can recapture their fondest memories. There, it is said that nothing changes. However, no one knows for sure because no one has ever returned. But Chow's protagonist (portrayed again by Takuya Kimura), is the first to try to leave the mysterious place. And much of the movie focuses on the reasons why.

The women who enter and leave Chow's life figure prominently into the story as well. There's Mr. Wang's eldest daughter, Wang Jing-Wen (Faye Wong), who's in love with a young man from Japan (Takuya Kimura). But Mr. Wang vehemently opposes their relationship and pressures her to break up with him.

And then there's the the glamorous Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi), whom Chow courts, then eventually rejects. There's a singer named Lulu (Carina Lau), as well as a professional gambler (Gong Li) who has a coincidental link to Chow's past love.

Throughout the film, we see glimpses of Chow's life. They seem fragmented and out of order at first, but as he comes to his revelations, they all fall into place at the end.

Remarks: 2046 is made with a lot of passion. Wong Kar-Wai creates a very colorful, imaginative, and slow-paced film that often has a stream-of-consciousness feel. It's a very poignant, emotional, and believable look at a man trying to figure himself out.

Also very interesting is the way Wong Kar-Wai examines creative writing as a psychological/emotional outlet...while knowing very well that his philosophies are being communicated to us through the visual medium of film. And once again, the use of music is very powerful. Chow's science fiction story and his real life are cleverly woven together. Reality and fiction are strong themes, as each offers fascinating insights about the other.

Who would like this movie: 2046 is for you if you like foreign films, art-house movies, and watching big-name actors from Asia interacting with each other in one movie. It's very different from the mainstream stuff that you'll find at the local cineplex, so I'd encourage you to see it only if you're in the mood to try something different. You'll also appreciate this film if you love analyzing and talking about movies after watching them. It's a good one to write about if you're in film school.

Several languages are spoken, with characters portrayed as being able to communicate with each other in different Chinese dialects. This should be of great interest to those studying foreign languages (particularly Chinese). My only beef with this film is that some of the subtitles aren't as accurate as they should be.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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