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Tony Chiu Wai Leung,
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The story evolves around the main character, Zhou Mo Wan who writes a novel about a mysterious train that leaves for a place called 2046 every once in a while. Everyone who boards that train has the same intention - which is to recapture their lost memories. It is said that in 2046, nothing ever changed. Nobody knows for sure if it was true, because nobody who went there had ever come back- except for one. He had been there but He chose to leave. He wanted to change. Written by
Bits and Pieces of Love Stories from a Writer's Mind: A Wondrous Journey
Kar Wai Wong is more than a film director (though he is one of the finest directors working today!): he is a visual, poetic, creative and daring artist capable of more cinematic miracles in one isolated film than most directors achieve in a lifetime. '2046' is a visually stunning, intellectually challenging, emotionally charged view of love and lust in today's kinetically dysfunctional society.
There is no one way to interpret this non-linear film and therein lies much of its rewards. The main character Chow (Tony Leung) is a writer and a libertine who has pushed his vacuous life around with his hormones and though he has had many affairs he has failed to find the illusory 'love'. He has lived in Singapore and Hong Kong, makes his living writing columns of newspapers while his novels formulate in his mind. One of his novels is called '2046', the title based on the room number in a hotel where he witnessed a bizarre incident involving a gorgeous woman, and resulted in his moving into the adjoining room 2047 where is meets the hotel manager's daughter in love with a Filipino Japanese man her father loathes. He desires this unattainable woman and fuses her with a fictional 'android' in his novel which now uses '2046' as a year or time or place where people go to find memories. He continues to encounter women for whom he desires more than surface relationships (there is a stunning lady gambler cameo who represents everything he lusts and longs for, etc) but he is never able to find his tenuous ideal: his memory is his only source of consolation.
The actors in every role include many of the finest actors available: Li Gong, Ziyi Zhang, Carina Lau, Maggie Cheung, Takuya Kimura, Chen Chang, and of course Tony Leung. But it is Kar Wai Wong, the writer, director, choreographer, colorist, visionary that makes this excursion into the interstices of the mind/imagination so overwhelmingly satisfying. Whether the viewer elects to view the story as a continuation of the director's previous films, or as reality vs memory, fiction vs imagination, sci-fi excursion, or simply a plethora of vignettes about the challenges of finding love in a world geared toward instant gratification, this is a magnificent achievement. In many ways the sound track could be turned off (though the beautiful musical score by Peer Raben and Shigeru Umebayashi with a lot of help from Maria Callas! would be missed), and the inventive cinematography and visual image manipulations by Christopher Doyle, Pung-Leung Kwan and Yiu-Fai Lai such as the constant dividing of the screen into triptychs and diptychs would remain some of the most beautiful photographic images on film.
This is not an easy film to follow and it is most assuredly one that will grow in importance with repeated viewings. The comparison with Alain Resnais' 'Last Year at Marienbad' suggests its potency. But free the mind and enter into the world of '2046' for one of the most satisfying cinematic achievements of the recent past. Very highly recommended. Grady Harp
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