Tuesday, September 9, 2008

2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004, Hong Kong)

This is a story about love, loss, and regrets. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE introduced an intimate and more endearing Chow, a faithful husband who lived next door to So, a married woman whom he falls deeply in love with, but soon understands and finally accepts that this relationship is doomed. 

In 2046, we meet Chow a few years later and he is cold and distant, using women as mere playthings for a night or two, never allowing intimacy or heartache: he has become a Simulacrum whose emotional reactions are delayed…or nonexistent. He still searches for fragments of his true love in other women but these relationships are dreary and dark reflections of his former life.

Chow rents a shabby apartment next door to a room numbered 2046; the same room number in Singapore (years earlier) where he found temporary happiness. He allows himself to become close to the Innkeeper’s daughter but she is in love with a Japanese man. Together they write a science fiction tale called 2046, a story about a Japanese man (this is Chow’s fictional doppelganger) who is leaving a time/space/state-of-being because he can’t find love and holds the leaden weight of a secret. But this character falls in love with a female Simulacrum who can’t reciprocate his feelings and he is left heartbroken, emotionally destitute. This is a metaphor for Chow’s reality and his catharsis. Because whenever Chow allows himself to love a woman it all ends abruptly.

Wong Kar-wai’s film is visually mesmerizing as he portrays Chow’s reality in oversaturated colors and beautifully framed compositions. He is rarely photographed alone, which contrasts the starkness of the first film, until he begins to fall in love again. Then we see him isolated at his desk, pen quivering over paper, fiction his only way to understand the world around him. But this journey seems to be infinite as his pen cannot complete the final chapter. Chow travels towards an unknown and always changing destination. Alone.