After being positively underwhelmed by Days of Being Wild and In the Mood for Love, this, director Wong Car Wais final film of the trilogy isnt much better. Im still unsure why I rented this with that knowledge, other than to see Honk Kongs Tom Cruise in Tony Leung up on screen. He is a good actor. The third movie is yet again a bit of a damp firework.
Acclaimed for his halluciagenic visuals you cant fault the guy for the technical stuff, his movies very striking, definitely iridescent, and immaculately presented, always pulling you in. The acting is superb, too. But the story and script itself is uninspiring and limited, defeating the build up. I suppose you can equate this experience to dating a beautiful girl with no brains. One you have bought dinner and bedded her then its job done.
Like the fictional train sequence the film opens up with the actual journey is rather boring and good ideas go to waste. The opening of this movie promised much, but 129 minutes later it was just another tale of what might have been. I feel like I got off at Watford Gap and not Paris!
The trilogies storyline is about a man called Chow Mo Wan (Leung) and his journey to find love. After the chaos and trippy first film, In the Mood for Love was a more sophisticated movie second time up, Chow falling for his next door neighbor (Maggie Cheung), but both married to others. At the end of film two hes in Cambodia in 1966 still yearning for real love
Film three picks up from where two left off, but you wouldnt know it from the opening futuristic sequence, a spectacular visual opening treat that has you hooked in to where the final film is going and where and when its set.
We are onboard a train that goes to the year 2046, a place where nothing ever changes, the monorail staffed and driven by beautiful androids. But the year turns out not to be the future where the film will be set but the title of Chows book, the opening moments of the film his imagination being tapped out on the typewriter, Chow back in Hong Kong in 1966 so the story can continue from where we left off from film two. 2046 is also the number on the door of his room from In the Mood for Love, where he conducted he affair. The android thing is supposed to be some sort of metaphor for forbidden love by the way.
Returning to HK from Cambodia to the same apartment block, room 2046 is being redecorated, following a bloody murder, Chow taking #2047. Then he embarks on relationship with the new accupant of his old room, Bai Ling (Ziyi Zhang), which will take up most of the films emotional narrative. But hes not a one women man and between writing for the local paper and betting and boozing he is soon filling his life with all manner of vices, this film purely an observation of from there on in
Its OK, but nothing more. Its unsympathetic nature of its central protagonists and claustrophobic camera work, the actors of the piece rarely leaving the hotel, means it is a rather labored view. You can feel the director enjoying that squeeze, one too many close-up, the plot having no real meaning and ever so slightly confusing. This film was four years in production and it shows. But from the excellent iridescent opening sequence I expected anything but.
Visually its superb and the acting top notch, but that clutter of interiors, smoky rooms and tear-stained faces, yearning for love, just make you want to jump through the screen and open all the windows and doors and kick them onto the street. Im afraid the film just has no heart and charisma guys.
-Making of 2046-
As I say it was big budget and so, with subtitles, you will hear all about its making.
Director Wong Kar-War tells all in Mandarin. Err, no thanks.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
This Chinese and Japanese language film is an engaging concoction of romance, science fiction, and drama. From the renowned Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai, it follows the relationships of a two-bit writer and heart-broken / heart-breaking womaniser, Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung), as they become entwined in his writings, particularly the most famous novel, 2046. The secondary plot-line follows a Japanese man as he rides a train back from the year 2046, where people travel to reclaim lost memories, with a crew of eery and stunning androids whose motives are unclear and seem as echoes of Mo-Wans debaucherous life.
The film is a continuation of the long running collaboration between Leung and Wai; their fifth film together. Leung has played a range of challenging
characters under Wais direction, including a gay man facing exile in Happy Together (1997), and has won five Hong Kong Film Awards for best actor. Probably his most notable international achivement to date was the best
actor award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for In the Mood for Love, for which 2046 has been loosely viewed as a sequel. Interestingly though, Wai denies this reading of the films.
One of the absolute stand-out features of the film is the stunning costume design, which alternates between classically elegant and intricately structured and futuristic. The costumes are almost surpassed by the cast of unanimously beautiful female actors headed by Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; House of Flying Daggers), who won best actress at the 2005
Hong Kong Film Awards for her performance. It would have been entirely possible for all this beauty to become a bit boring were it not for the cleverly contructed web of sadness, surreality, and loss surrounding the
female characters, making them objects of pity more than desire.
Combine the above with the often inspired cinematography and you have yourself one beautiful film to watch. Some cunning cinematographic techniques lead the audience to feel as though they are peeping through the curtains to watch the action. In fact peeking, seeing without being seen, is a recurring theme in the film and is represented on numerous occasions, heightening the air of mystery and dupiclitousness that pervades.
Some elements of the storyline dont entirely gel or seem almost to interrupt each other, but the presence of strongly cyclical elements (the characters are revisited every year on Christmas Eve, for example) provides
a mainstay against the more fantastical elements. The film is a visual knock-out and pleasantly ambiguous without reaching the brain-bending extremes of Lynch or Cronenberg - suitable for quiet rainy days and Sunday
evenings, comes highly recommended.
2046 continues the story of Chow Mo Wan (Tony Leung) from director, Wong Kar-Wai's previous film, 'In the Mood for Love', a few years after his fleeting affair with Su Li-Zhen (Maggie Cheung). The film is set in late 1960s Hong Kong, where Chow is now an out of work journalist and fiction writer, working on a bizaare science fiction romance story that weeves itself into the plot of the film.