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Beautiful, emotional, and chaotic
on 27 May 2008
This film seems very disjointed and at first you're not too sure if you're watching a futuristic sci-fi feature, or love story. Although the latter is more on-the-mark, this feeling of disorientation is key to the way the film strings along many individual moments to build up a small web of characters.
This is the third film in a series and many of the themes carry through. I've not seen the previous films, (they aren't strictly 'prequels') so I can't say if they would have added anything to the experience. The number 2046 carries the weight of significance throughout the film; Chow Mo-Wan, a womanising pulp fiction writer uses his life experiences to author a series of adult books, and to create a semi biographical story set in the year 2046. 2046 is the room number he used to conduct an affair many years ago, and is the room number he finds himself and his former lover in after a chance meeting. When Chow finds himself in room 2047, this symbolises him moving on, but he still frequents room 2046.
Chow becomes involved with several ladies, but most intriguing is his relationship with Bai Ling, the beautiful escort girl with whom a mutual agreement is made for them to satisfy their lust for each other. It becomes clear that Bai harbours more than just physical attraction for him and the relationship turns stale as Chow seems to enjoy making her jealous. His feeling towards women seems cold and you sympathise for Bai.
Another prolific relationship begins with a daughter of his landlord. She is a budding writer and a fan of his 2046 serial. They work together and a sequel 2047 begins.
The film seems to implode at moments and a tangible 25 minutes or so of scenes which run fluidly becomes a confused amalgamation of what has been, and what is yet to come. The imagery is striking, lots of slow scenes where you start to think if the image is paused. Evocative and keeping you on your toes to concentrate are the main features of this film. The re-union between Chow and Bai is the the moment where we see if Chow really has, or can, move on from his past.
In a nutshell: The film looks beautiful, and through insights into the private lives of the characters, and their history - they have depth. These two things make the film watchable, even if it does sometimes feel like it drags. I'd love to give this 4 stars (in terms of atmosphere and artistic direction this is a 5 star film) but I'm opting for three as I feel as though there was something lacking from not watching the previous film "In the Mood for love". However, I did enjoy the film and look forward to returning to it in the future.