The writer-protagonist yearns for one lost woman and places three other present ones in a mysterious fantasy about the distant future. Premiered at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, Wong Kar-wai's grandiose contemplation on love, memory, and creativity received no awards there but was recognized as the climax of the director's career.
Writer Chow lives in room number 2047 and composes a fantasy short story. Its protagonist is the only passenger of a futuristic train who managed to escape from a place called 2046, where nothing changes and from where no one has ever returned. As one might easily guess, this is an autobiographical story: a few years ago, Chow used to spend hours in the oppositely located room 2046, writing martial arts novels together with a woman named Su, whom he lost but cannot forget.
Just as Chow is haunted by the ghost of his ex-lover, 2046 has been haunted by Wong’s previous pictures. In Wild Days (1990), which forms an informal trilogy with In the Mood for Love (2000) and 2046, Wong left a small reserve for the future—the mysterious final scene, in no way connected with the main action, where a gallant man credited as The Gambler goes away on business and leaves his flat. Next time, the man (or his incarnation) pops up in In the Mood for Love as journalist Chow, before Tony Leung shockingly departs from his good fellow alias—the moral compass in Kar-wai’s cinema—and turns into a cynical womanizer. Now, rather than Chow from In the Mood for Love, he looks more like a reincarnation of the deceased Leslie Cheung Wild Days character, who at some point is asked the same question: “Do you treat all women the same way?”
2046 finally turned Wong Kar-wai’s filmography into a single universe. In this world, actors play the same characters, new versions of old characters, or different characters with the same names. Men have greasy hair, women wear floral dresses, and it is so easy to fall from one movie into another, like into a rabbit hole. Making an appearance in 2046 are Lulu, a heroine of Wild Days, and actress Fay Wong, whose eccentric character resembles her iconic fairy girl from Chungking Express. Having previously shuffled characters like cards in a deck, here Kar-wai creates his own Eight and a Half—a personal confession, where the previous films dissolve.
The film will be screened in Cantonese, Mandarin, and Japanese with Russian subtitles.
Dir. Wong Kar-wai
Hong Kong, 2004. 129 min. 16+