Dir: Wong Kar-Wai, M, Hong Kong S.A.R., China, 2004, 129mins, Subtitled
In the opening of 2046, we’re reunited with Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu-wai). Jaded by heartbreak, and now a self-confessed ladies’ man, he travels from Singapore to Hong Kong, reconnecting with Carina Lau (reprising her role of Mimi from Days of Being Wild).
They end up in room 2046 at the Oriental Hotel, the number sparking a memory (of happier days with Mrs Chan). He takes up residence, writing gossip columns, erotica and wuxia genres for cash and embarks on a futuristic story called ‘2046’, about a place where the broken hearted can go to recover lost memories.
This candy-coloured, sci-fi world intersects throughout the film, creating a dreamscape narrative where characters from one story also exist in this parallel world. But for Mo-wan, his memories are never far away and so he attempts to carouse and sleep his way out of heartbreak with his showgirl neighbour Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi).
In his 2005 monograph on Wong Kar Wai, Stephen Teo said 2046 ‘distils people’s emotional reaction to change as it takes effect over time’, with the greatness of the film ‘reaffirming Wong’s status as the pre-eminent director of his generation in Hong Kong cinema’.
Notes by Kristy Matheson.
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