2046 - Stylishly Disappointing
| I was looking forward to seeing 2046. I was unfamiliar with the films of Wong KarWai but on the recommendation of a friend, prior to attending 2046, I rented In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar Wai’s prequel to 2046. In the Mood for Love showed a lot of promise.
While the screenplay appeared to be the product of an inexperienced writer (I was shocked to learn that Wong Kar Wai had penned no less than 14 screenplays prior to In the Mood for Love), the direction of the film was so stylish and slick that I was ready for more. Unfortunately, 2046 was unable to build on its predecessor and in fact, for me, it represented a big step backward for the filmmaker. None of the problems that were evident in In the Mood for Love had been conquered for 2046 and the direction was less stylish leaving me somewhat disappointed with the film.
2046 is by no means a disaster. The film continues the story of the life of Chow Mo-Wan, played by Tony Leung Chiu-wai, who we first met as the central character in In the Mood for Love. Having left the woman he loves behind, we see him at the beginning of 2046 floating through his life seemingly unable to make any lasting connections with his fellow human beings.
A writer of science fiction serials, Chow is outwardly successful but inwardly haunted by the loss of his true love. 2046 focuses on Chow’s relationships with a number of women, each of whom have their own past which colors their interactions with Chow. While there is little plot to speak of, the relationships between Chow and the women he encounters are complex and interesting enough to keep the movie engaging almost to the end. The last 20 minutes of the movie drag endlessly but to that point there is much about the movie worth watching.
Most worth watching in 2046 are the women. As in In the Mood for Love, 2046 is inhabited by the most glamorous and beautiful women. Director Wong Kar Wai knows how to film them to maximize their impact. While less stylish than its predecessor, 2046 still outshines anything that has come out of Hollywood in the past few years for its sheer vision and the images that come out of the world it inhabits.
Rather than simply filming a location or a set, Wong Kar Wai uses the backdrops, the costumes, the lights, the sets, even the props, to draw the audience deeper and deeper into the story. It is as though Wong Kar Wai directs not only the actors but the very air that surrounds them in order to create the world of the film. Not since Hitchcock has there been a director in Hollywood who can create a look and a feel for a film that takes the screenplay miles beyond where it would have been under the direction of a less skilled filmmaker.
At the end of a summer of disappointing films, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised I was somewhat disappointed in this one too. Having said that, and despite its weak screenplay, 2046 is probably worth watching. It’s interesting and stylish and it’s a good reminder of how much impact a director’s vision can have on a film. I guess that’s how I can sum up this review: aspiring directors – see this movie and learn something, be impressed. Aspiring writers - skip it. The only lesson you’ll learn is that a great director can, to some extent, make up for shoddy writing.