2046 review

:. Director: Wong Kar-Wai
:. Starring: Tony Leung, Zhang Zhun
:. Running Time: 1:55
:. Year: 2004
:. Country: Hong-Kong


A nostalgic and stylized work, worked by time, 2046 subscribes to the aesthetic and thematic continuity of In the Mood for Love, its twin film. The last film by Wong Kar Wai occurs in a vague space, futuristic and retro at the same time, where memories hurl themselves against regrets. The director probes this mental space, crossed by zones of shadows, dreams, and disappointed hopes. All things considered, it explores the imaginary and the memory of its hero, a sci-fi writer who in another time madly loved a woman.

2046 opens on an astonishing, digital sequence in the universe of the filmmaker: a mysterious train takes along travelers in search of their lost memories in 2046, a space/time from which no one returns. Separately, the hero who undertakes the intimate work of recollection. Various women, randomly crossed into a solitary existence, live in the space of his memories. These brief love stories, intense and disillusioned, are reported one by one, forming sedimentary narrative blocks, from mnemonic layers that cross and knock together. The very beautiful heroines of Wong Kar Wai (Zang Ziyi, Gong Li, Faye Wong) play various poles of femininity. Passionate, cerebral or romantic, their presence renders even more striking the absence of the female ideal, hidden and lost forever in the depths of the past and the painful maze of memory. 2046 is a film about solitude and absence, topics that cross, like nebula, in the filmmaker's work.

Maggie Cheung, the sublime heroine of In the Mood for Love, however credited with the credits with 2046, shines with her presence/absence, as much as with the image as with the existence of the principal character. Contaminating all diegetic space, this absolute female lives in an indefinite place where the most personal thoughts of the hero are stored. Perhaps 2046 for the title is good; it's also a hotel room or maybe this is this secret stored in the side of a Cambodian mountain, an episode that intervenes in the epilogue of In the Mood for Love and is told by the hero himself.

Correspondences cross right through the two mirror films. Plays of echoes are established: just like in In the Mood for Love, the circulation of objects from one shot to another (keys, dresses, various accessories) accompanies the story, inflects its direction and directs the eyes. These elements act like as many temporal and narrative milestones for the audience. Wong Kar Wai invents a fetishist cinema. But the delicate eroticism of In the Mood for Love is seriously sweetened, to the profit of more explicit sex scenes. Sensual, certainly, but charged with despair. The very incarnate relationship that the writer maintains with one of his mistresses (Zang Ziyi) turns into a sensual duel, a game of fools where true feelings will remain quiet. Cruel, this segment is compensated by another the more tender one that sees the intellectual osmosis between the writer and his assistant.

But what is 2046? A disillusioned abstraction about the torments of emotional loneliness? An experimental film that focuses on memory and time? Or, more severely, a little dull copy of the director's previous film? Unfortunately, one leans toward this last proposal. Less bewitching than its original matrix, 2046 does not succeed in this interior abduction that made the magic and the beauty of In the Mood for Love. With the patina of its location, answers the wear of a look which is not regenerated by experimentation, quite to the contrary. The impression of "déjà vu" prevails. Consequently, it begs the question: what is the meaning of this sequel? Has it been motivated by pure artistic concerns or is it about commercial simplicity?

  Fred Thom

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