2046 (2004) movie poster

(2004) dir. Wong Kar Wai
viewed: 01/02/06 / diary entry: 01/05/06

I had been meaning to see 2046 for some time and I am sorry that I didn’t catch it in the cinema. The cinematography and art design of Wong Kar Wai’s films is always stunning and certainly exudes more power on the big screen. His films also typically move fairly slowly, so watching in the theater tends to be more engrossing. 2046 is, in some ways, a reprise of Tony Leung’s character from In the Mood for Love (2000), which I have never gotten around to seeing. I can imagine that watching that film could inflect itself on this one. His character’s attitude toward women is chaotic, from distant functional sexual relationships to deep longing and love. He is lost, due to the happenings in the prior film in a fractured world from which he seeks escape.

The escapist narrative is an oddly futuristic “place” or lack of “place”. It’s neither time nor place in a sense. It’s a train, populated by no one but the protagonist and a beautiful automoton played by Faye Wong. Again, the protagonist’s dream of love is refuted ambiguously by the woman. Is it due to her delayed reaction? Or is it her previous engagements?

In Wong Kar Wai’s films, characters are always failing to connect, helplessly caught in some longing, yet unable to resolve the need for themselves or others. It’s a tone and mood that pervades his work and is heavily present in this film as well. In some ways, the tone feels tired, as though we have been through this all before. But something in the secondary narrative, maybe its parallel commentary on the main narrative provides more insight to the characters’ states of being more than in other of his films.

His films have a feeling of the avant-garde, while in many ways echoing an outdated mode of the avant-garde. Maybe that makes sense in some post-post-modernist modernity. His films are also always beautifully shot, and 2046 is no exception. It looks great and it’s pretty intriguing. Wong Kar Wai is still one of the most interesting directors out there, in my opinion.

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