2046 ★★★★★

Wong Kar-Wai is a director that speaks in my tongue. I'm a white, suburban, middle class, American (floundering in the cold post-collegiate waters of unemployment), who can't speak a lick of Cantonese, but in each one of Wong Kar-Wai's films I can't help but hear and see my world. The vibrant reds, the murky greens, the shimmering yellows and oranges - he reinvents the world (typically his native city of Hong Kong) and imbues it with such vitality that it makes me feel right at home, even in such a foreign place.

Wong's world is not perfect. In fact, in most of his movies, along with their respective protagonists, we can always find an excess of misfortune. Whether they are the misfortunes of ingratitude, loneliness, and spite ("Days of Being Wild") or even the all too familiar misfortune of unattained and unspoken love ("In the Mood for Love"), we can quickly see Wong is not very interested with examining the perfect (or even the near-perfect for that matter). But despite the rampant imperfections within the characters of his films, there is always a fantastic beauty that prevails throughout his work.

This is particularly evident in, "2046". It is the third movie in an informal trilogy, following the two films I've mentioned previously, "Days of Being Wild" and "In the Mood for Love". "2046" finds our protagonist, Chow, living in a strange and mysterious sci-fi reality called 2046. Trapped on a train with android women who serve him day and night, we find Chow, depicted as a Japanese man named Tak, trying to return from this mysterious 2046. This is the world Chow/Tak inhabits - and we are welcomed as viewers to inhabit it with him. Our narrator tells us that no one has ever escaped "2046", a land where lost love reigns supreme, but this is exactly what Chow/Tak is trying to do.

The parallel world, that is the world where Chow exists in, is 1960's Hong Kong. Following the end of his unconsummated affair with Su Li-Zhen ("In the Mood for Love"), we find Chow looking to move on from his past misfortunes. He decides to move into an apartment complex complete with a room numbered 2046. However, due to certain circumstances he has to rent the adjacent room, 2047. From this room Chow both partakes in, and observes, the comings and goings of the guests of room 2046, as he simultaneously narrates all these events in a comic strip. This comic strip is set in, you guessed it, the year 2046 and this is where Chow's parallel identity Tak's story takes place.

If all that sounds complicated, then you are getting the gist of the story. The narrative is definitely not straight forward or obvious, but it isn't necessarily the main purpose of the film either. What flows from this narrative setup is a unique barrage of stories, of love, loss, and longing, that under a lesser director would have devolved into an unintelligible mess. However, under Wong Kar-Wai's direction we have an incredible depiction of the harrowing world of lost and unattained love. It's a stunning world - so beautiful in spite of (or maybe because of) all of the loss. He paints his back drop of Hong Kong (and 2046) with such richly defined colors, evoking from you a sense that you too are a partaker and observer, like all these hapless inhabitants of 2046. Each story is so carefully handled that we are quick to forget anything else but the details of these specific characters in these specific moments.

This film is one that feels as if it was made specifically for me, and maybe it was. I can easily imagine all my admiration of the complexities of this story, these characters, and the considerable amount of focus on the topic of loss and love, being turned into a long list of complaints for a movie that has no redeeming qualities. But that isn't the case for me. When I view this film it fills me with wonder, and I'm consistently reminded of the feelings and memories of when I longed for something or someone now long lost in the throws of life. These are feelings that I cherish, and, for that, I will continue to return to "2046" again and again.

Unable to leave that home where lost love reigns supreme.


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