2046 (2004)

A thought-provoking exploration of love, loss, and the timeless power of human emotions.

7/17/20234 min read

Faye Wong in '2046'
Faye Wong in '2046'

Cantonese, 128 minutes

Director: Wong Kar-wai

Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Gong Li, Faye Wong, Zhang ziyi, Wang Sum, Takuya Kimura

Awards: Nominated for the ‘Golden Palm’ at Cannes Film festival,2004; Best Art direction and Best original Film Score at Golden Horse Film festival, Taiwan, 2004; European Film Award for Best non-European Film; Won several awards at Hong Kong Film Awards, 2005.

‘2046’, a romantic drama, is regarded as a distant sequel to Wong's earlier work, ‘In the Mood for Love’ which stands on its own, delving deeper into the themes of love, time, and the consequences of our emotional choices.

Set in 1960s HongKong, ‘2046’ essentially is shown as the room number in a hotel, where Chow (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) arrives from Singapore and meets a Lady called Lulu whom he had earlier met. Lulu and Chow spend night together but Lulu forgets her room keys with Chow. When Chow wants to return keys to her later, he learns that Lulu was killed a night before. Chow stays in room 2047 and his flings with various occupants of room no. 2046 is what the first part of the film is about. The second part of the film is a fictional futuristic story, set in year 2046, that Chow is writing. The story talks about 2046 as a destination where everybody wants to go but nobody returns from there. The story starts in a train, set in second part, and then moves back and forth to unfurl the romantic affairs of Chow.

After Lulu, the room no. 2046 is occupied by Jing Wen (Faye Wong), hotel owner’s elder daughter, who was hopelessly in love with Japanese who her father could not stand. As the Japanese leaves, she becomes mentally unstable and the room is occupied briefly by her younger sister, Jie-Wen. Nothing happens between these two and next comes Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi), a beautiful high profile prostitute. She rejects Chow’s initial advances towards her but eventually falls for his charms. She soon starts to like him and they frequently spend the night together. However, Chow is clear that he doesn’t want to get attached to a single woman and this prompts Bai Ling to leave him. Meanwhile Jing Wen returns and helps Chow write stories when he realizes that she writes very well. However, their relationship doesn’t progress much as Chow realizes that Jing Wen still likes the Japanese guy. Yet, he starts writing a sci-fi story titled 2047 for her. Later he completes the story and is informed by hotel owner that Jing Wen is going to marry the Japanese guy. Chow sends the completed story with him.

Other woman getting involved with Chow, when in Singapore, is shown as Su Li-zhen, who is a beautiful high profile gambler. Chow has lost money and She helps him recover his lost money. Chow too gets emotionally involved with her. He asks her to come with him to Hong Kong but she disagrees. Soon, Chow meets Bai Ling again just before she is going to leave for Singapore. Her love for Chow is genuine and she almost begs him to spend night with her which Chow refuses. Chow leaves her but is stuck with memories he has spent with various women.

The cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Kwan Pun Leung is exquisitely crafted, with each frame drenched in rich and saturated colors. Accompanying the film's captivating visuals is a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack. The melancholic melodies composed by Shigeru Umebayashi evoke a sense of yearning and nostalgia, perfectly complementing the film's emotional depth.

The performances in "2046" are exceptional, with Tony Leung Chiu-Wai delivering a nuanced portrayal of a man haunted by love's transience. His on-screen chemistry with co-stars Gong Li, Zhang Ziyi, and Faye Wong is palpable, capturing the complex dynamics of desire and longing. Their interactions, fueled by a mix of passion and melancholy, leave an indelible impression.

About the Director, Wong Kar-Wai

This Hong Kong based film director was born in July, 1958 in Shanghai and later moved to British Hong Kong with his family at a young age. Wong Kar Wai is a highly acclaimed Hong Kong film director known for his distinct and visually stunning filmmaking style.

His first feature ‘As Tears Go By’, released in 1988, is based on criminal world where a young disillusioned criminal is required to keep a watch on his temperamental friend. The film featured hottest young faces of Hong Kong in that film which explored the subject of youth involved in the world of crime. His second feature, ‘Days of being Wild’, released in 1990, highlights a man’s search for his birth mother when his mother tells him that he is an adopted child. The film did win awards for best director and best film at Hong Kong annual awards but didn’t do well at box office. This was a breakaway film in the sense that it did not focus on crime world as was the trend and Wong Kar-Wai’s first film but focused on the personal and emotion journey of an individual.

His next film was ‘Ashes of time’ which was based on popular novel ‘The legend of Condor Heroes’ written by Jin Yong. The film is a historical costume drama depicting Wuxia, ancient martial art of China, culture during Song Dynasty. The film was a costly affair and took long time to make. While doing post production for ‘Ashes of time’ as he was waiting for some equipment, Wong embarked on a small film ‘Chungking Express’ which he planned and completed in only six weeks. This film made Wong famous internationally as his style and technique was noticed by cinephiles.

One of Wong Kar-Wai's notable trademarks is his innovative use of cinematography and music. He collaborated closely with talented cinematographer Christopher Doyle for six feature films to create visually striking images. Wong Kar Wai frequently employs handheld cameras and quick, fragmented shots to capture the frenetic energy of his characters and their surroundings. This dynamic visual style can be seen in films like "Chungking Express" (1994) and "Fallen Angels" (1995), where the camera movements mimic the restlessness and unpredictability of urban life. Fallen Angels is a crime drama with two intertwined storylines forming the narrative.

Wong’s film ‘2046’ is considered a sequel of his earlier film ‘In the Mood for Love’. This was Wong’s most expensive and lengthy film made till date which was released in October, 2004. But it was premiered in Cannes film festival, 2004 with Wong delivering film print late by 24 hours and continued to work on post till the last minute. The film was praised by critics but didn’t do well at box office.

Wong Kar Wai's filmmaking style is characterized by its poetic sensibility, visual elegance, and exploration of the human condition. Through his unique approach to cinematography, production design, editing, and music, he creates films that are both visually stunning and emotionally resonant.