The continued story of Chow Mo-Wan, who uses his experiences at a Hong Kong hotel in the 1960s to write a futuristic tale about the mysterious woman who stayed next door to him in room 2046. — Genre: Feature Film-Drama — Rat... more »ing: R
Albert K. from NEW YORK, NY Reviewed on 12/23/2012...
If you have not seen this movie - you have not seen anything.
A must have for any DVD collection.
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Paul McGrath | Sacramento, CA | 12/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a young college student many years ago, I took a film class as a kind of lark and to fulfill some requirement or other. It was pretty much a waste of time. There was one camera to go around among twenty students, so we each got about a week with the thing and hardly anybody got anything done. The one good thing was that we got to see some avant-garde films. They were real eye-openers, in that film, to me, had pretty much always been a depiction of a linear story line with a beginning, middle, climax and end. The avant-garde films we watched rarely had any kind of a story line at all, but despite this the better ones were still able to elicit a satisfying emotional or intellectual response.
The first thing you have to remember when you watch 2046 is that there is not a conventional story line here. In fact, the haphazard nature of the film's scenes--past, present, future, imagined and "real"--don't even make sense in their own illogical framework. You have to know this going in because if you strain to make sense of the plot--as we have all been conditioned to do--you will miss the point. Indeed, I had to watch this a couple of times.
The film consists of a series of scenes primarily focusing on a Chinese writer named Chow. He is in Singapore, and leaves a beautiful woman behind who may or may not have loved him. He is in Hong Kong, and falls for another beautiful woman who is murdered in her hotel room. He tells the hotel-keeper that he wishes to move into this room--2046--because he is evidently trying to return to this place in his mind and his heart. Of course, he can't, literally or figuratively, so he is given the room next door. He begins an affair with a prostitute who moves into 2046 and who loves him with every fiber of her being. He uses her as a prostitute only. He falls in love with the hotel-keeper's daughter who herself is in love with a distant Japanese man her father despises. He writes a science-fiction piece--visualized in the film and entitled 2046--which is a story of the future and a train on which female androids serve one but with whom one must never fall in love, and on which he imagines himself to be Japanese.
Ehh, no, this is not a coherent storyline. The future is mixed with the past which is mixed with the present which is mixed with his story which is mixed up with his imagination. In the end, it occurs that it is entirely possible that all of these women are the same person; that they are simply some ideal of love he has concocted in his mind. Maybe not.
Visually, the film is a stunner. Every scene, every backdrop, every set-piece is carefully and meticulously orchestrated. Cigarette smoke drifting above a cluttered desk; a beautifully-clothed female form asleep on a bed; cards laid out on a green table in a dark restaurant: you could paint these scenes and hang them in an art museum. The framing device is also very artful. It is constrained and prevents us from seeing what we want to see. It is hard to comprehend. More importantly, the attention that is being paid to these details and the beauty with which they are rendered concentrates the viewer's attention: something incredibly important is going on. This feeling is reinforced by the musical score--opera and classical mostly--which drifts in and out plaintively.
The acting, from the smaller to the larger roles, is spectacular. So much is going on beyond that which is said, and beyond that which is implied. All of the actors and actresses are superb, but special mention must be paid to Ziyi Zheng, who plays the prostitute, and who burns a hole in the screen every time she appears on it. She is an un-erupted volcano of barely restrained emotion: thin, beautiful, lonely, sensual, and terribly, terribly sad.
In the end, and without perhaps realizing it, we understand that the film works as a statement on the human condition, and the clumsy, random way we try to seek happiness in it. We recognize true love after our chance for it is over, or after our previous actions have rendered it impossible. Or maybe because we failed to recognize it altogether. Or maybe because we are not Japanese, or younger, or older. Complete, unfettered happiness only exists in 2046, a room we cannot enter; a year that is in an unfathomably distant future.
That this film is an original and successful experiment with the medium, that it is so beautifully photographed and scored, that it is so perfectly acted, and that its grand themes are completely realized, make it one of the best films of the year, if not the decade."
Can Lives Be Redeemed, or Only Lived Out?
Kang Nan | FPO, AP United States | 04/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Continuing his unparalleled examination of human relationships, Wong Kar Wai returns to the character of Chow from In the Mood for Love, who had one chance for love, lost it, and has never gotten it back. (While it is not necessary to have seen the former film to understand 2046, In the Mood for Love is such a wonderful film, that I recommend it to anyone who likes 2046). Tony Leung gives a wonderful performance, clearly showing that he knows he should treat his women better than he does, but after giving his heart once in vain, he is not prepared to ever do so again.
2046 appears at first to be a year in the future, but is ultimately revealed to be the number of a hotel room where Chow had his one chance at happiness. He finds a modicum of that innocence once again, this time in 2047, with a different woman (the daughter of the innkeeper, played by Wang Faye), the only one he treats with anything like the affection he had for the woman who had shared (platonically) 2046 with him earlier. He writes a story for her, called 2047. She says she likes it, but wishes it had a happier ending, something fans of Wong Kar Wai sometimes long for, but realize would not be true to that which goes on during his stories.
Aside from Tony Leung's masterful performance, 2046 is the perfect platform for the greatest Chinese actresses of today, demonstrating once again that no one can break your heart like Maggie Cheung, no one can make you happy like Wang Faye, no one can be a [...]like Zhang Zi Yi (albeit one that can still have her heart broken because she uses a hard exterior in a vain attempt to protect a brittle interior) and no one could ever be as beautiful as Gong Li.
Like most of Wong Kar Wai's movies, the ending can be called bittersweet at best. He has only had one semi-happy ending, in Chungking Express, which also featured Tony Leung and Wang Faye (the only other time she has appeared in one of his movies). This time, the only character who ends up happy is Wang Faye's, largely due to Tony Leung's intervention. I don't know if that is a coincidence, or perhaps a comment on the fact that it isn't really possible to have anything but a happy ending when her luminous cheeks and eyes bless the screen. For all of the other characters, however, we see much of the same unfulfilled longings and reconciliation to the alienation so many feel toward their families, friends and lovers.
Each of Wong Kar Wai's films has built up to this ultimate piece on what it means to be human and to know other humans. You should really watch all of them, but even if you just watch this one, you will be the richer for it."
A visionary and intoxicating experience
Alec Price | UK | 02/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wong Kar-wai is one of the finest filmmakers in the world; an artist of singular vision and remarkable range. 2046 is probably his biggest project to date, but his eye remains firmly focussed on the spectrum of human emotion and behaviour. It would be redundant to attempt to encapsulate some form of plot outline (on the surface of things, Tony Leung reprises his character from the majestic IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, contemplating his many varied encounters with women in the past, present and even future, all the while longing for Maggie Cheung - his on-screen partner in the previous film - who remains the love of his life).
Suffice to say, narrative is not the point - Wong's films are about pure experience; creating mood and atmosphere to lose yourself in. If you can tune in to his wavelength, the effect is rapturous.
The transfer on the new DVD is very fine, and is complemented by an impressive array of feautures which do a good job of conveying Wong's complex approach to his craft."
Moody sequel to "In the Mood for Love"
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 06/16/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
The title of the film, "2046," refers both to a time in the future and to a hotel room in the past. Chow Mo Wan is a writer living in Hong Kong in the mid to late 1960's. The hotel room he rents is right next door to Room 2046, whose various residents, all beautiful but troubled women, he observes and interacts with and puts into his fiction, a sci-fi story entitled "2046," about a futuristic world in which people desperate for love and happiness journey to an unspecified place called 2046 where, we are told, love remains eternal and nothing ever changes. Chow's literary work also reflects much of what he himself feels about women, love and relationships. It's not always easy following the time shifts and parallel stories upon which this multi-level narrative is constructed, but "2046" is a mesmerizing film for anyone willing and open enough to give himself over to the experience.
At the start, the film feels episodic and disjointed, as writer/director Kar Wai Wong reveals in gradual stages the complex story he is telling. We can tell that this is a movie that will require our full and undivided attention if we hope to enter into the minds of the filmmakers and make any real sense at all out of it. But after some initial confusion, most of the early ambiguity begins to fade away as the major themes and characters come to the fore. Chow is a man who has clearly lost the love of his life and who has since been trying to come to terms with that fact in his later dealings with women. He has made a decision - whether conscious or unconscious we are never really sure - to keep women at arm's length, being willing to bed or help them but not allowing himself to enter into any permanent or meaningful relationships with them. Instead, he uses his writing to express those yearnings for true companionship that he cannot allow himself to act upon in real life.
Unlike many Chinese films, which enact their tales against expansive landscapes bathed in glorious sunlight and vibrant colors, "2046" is set in a claustrophobic world of dingy rooms and darkened hallways, with the camera almost never journeying outdoors or even pulling very far back from the actors in the frame. The effect of this is to plunge us fully into the world and minds of the characters, particularly that of Chow, whose thoughts and musings become the canvas on which the story is painted. Tony Leung Chiu Wai gives a subtle, masterful performance as do the various actresses who play the women in his life. It is his affair with Bai Ling, a beautiful prostitute who wants more out of their relationship than Chow is willing to give, that leaves the greatest mark on our heart.
There are times when the movie seems almost too fancy and showy for its own good, when the simplicity of the theme gets buried under the complexity and artiness of the filmmaker's style. But this is, for the most part, a challenging and stimulating work that moves us even when we don't fully understand it.
It's a metaphor
JCW | New York | 12/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First the history: Hong Kong was given back to China by the British in 1996 but was decided that nothing would change for 50 years -- until the year 2046.
Now the movie. To me, "2046" is a metaphor for how the Chinese in Hong Kong would be feeling in the year 2046 when they will be fully under Chinese rule. Some who can't or won't accept change will ask why can't things go back to the way it was before, while others will embrace what the future holds. Something like that. Remember the owner telling Chow to stay in 2047 for a while and move to 2046 when the room was ready? Chow later says that he got used to 2047 and decided to stay.
The characters are culled from 2 previous WKW movies that loosely form this trilogy. Carina Lau is Lulu from "Days of Being Wild". Tony Leung also from that movie but only in the very last minute of the film, and of course, he was in "In the Mood for Love". He not only gets to act with his beautiful real-life girlfriend, Carina, but his other female co-stars are also legendary beauties in Asian cinema. Maggie Cheung/Su Lichen is only in a dream sequence, Faye Wong/owner's daughter (this is only her second WKW film) whom Chow has grown affection for, but willing to let her (HK) go, Zhang Ziyi/Bai Ling (a new addition to WKW's stable of muses) who loves Chow (HK) unconditionally whatever his flaws, and Gong Li/Black Spider who wants to go with him but is stuck in the past.
The film is presented in 3 viewpoints: the present "real life" in which Chow is the womanizer who can't be pinned down because of how much he still loves Su Lichen in ITMFL and she is the yardstick by which all future relationships are measured. The futuristic scenes are when he is writing his sci-fi novel and his "real life" people and experiences work their way into the novel. Also, when he can't deal with real life, he goes to his novel and integrates recent real life events into the novel to help make sense of it all. Then there is the one or two dream sequences for when he is narrating his thoughts to us, the viewer.
I'm sure this is only the surface of the many layers this wonderful movie has to explore. I look forward to "getting" more of it with each new viewing.
p.s. after reading others' reviews, I must add that the room in this movie is not the same as in ITMFL, but it does have the same room number which, when it gets his attention, Chow is transported back to the remembrance of the love of his life. "