The future world of 2046 is a well-lit, ethereal space where trains rule not only the society as it is but also people's minds. Or else, how could we define the time ahead? A place where memories are left pendent or an atemporal universe where love is shelved into fulfilment? In a visually stunning journey, Wong Kar-Wai's movie 2046 ponders upon the consequences of loneliness and regret. Both past and future mirror the ruins of love as it breaks hearts and accumulates torment and it is funny how the realities of the futuristic world are more grounded in the present than the memories of the past.
In a rather complicated story of love and loss, Mo Wan Chow (Tony Leung) moves to Hong Kong to escape an unhappy love affair and get a job as a tabloid journalist. Once there, he checks in the Oriental Hotel, where he becomes involved with the resident woman of the neighbouring 2046 room, one of the owner's daughters, a prostitute, and later on, with a casino player called the Black Spider.Whereas in his previous movie, In the mood for love, the director depicted the relationship between a married woman and a writer, whose spouses were lovers, 2046 is the continuation of what happens to the character of Tony Leung who is trying to overcome the loss of the woman he loved, in the arms of others. Meanwhile, he is also writing a fictional novel set in 2046, on a train, of the same the number as the room where he met Maggie Cheung's character, Su Li-Zhen. Only broken people cannot unbreak their heart in the presence of love much to their desire to find it, once again. The memory of past love is deep within Mo Wan Chow's veins and he cannot escape the curse of remembering and seeking the presence of Su Li-Zhen in other women.
The story might be lengthy, confusing or too futuristic, yet the performances are poignant. Zhang Ziyi as Bai Ling, the prostitute who mistakes paid love for real emotions, is incredible in both looks and artistic inspiration. Her beauty is rich and tempting, her ache is impressive, her eyes are pencilled into eternal temptation. Mysterious and sensual, Mo Wan Chow (Tony Leung) flows through the rooms, stairs, lives of others in a snakelike sadness that will easily eat him up from the inside out.What is left of him is the wish to embark on the train of oblivion and reverie, on a one-ticket journey of no return. On the train, another man, Tak, his alter-ego, is pleading with an android waitress to find love together; whether her reactions are delayed or simply not to his heart's content, the woman never answers Tak's feelings, a mirror through time and space into Chow's heart.
After the cinematic experience, In the mood for love, Wong Kar-Wai takes us on a rather odd journey into the hearts of the lonely. It is a movie that feels a bit tricky in switching realities as the multiple layers of narrative go back and forth in time and space. It sticks with you for the quiet movements, the dancing shadows behind the characters' trembling souls, the tiny details that give savor to the plot. There is an almost organic need to touch the dancing feet, the small gestures that break the silences and aching hearts. The music is the shadow character in the movie, its intensity and sadness colours the humane emotions and give them purpose. Stairs, shabby rooms, naked shoulders, lips sipping from plain glasses, laughter that makes you feel alive, questioning eyebrows, tricky playing cards, saving or dooming numbers, silent indoor moments, an impatient pen left hanging midair- these are the details that survive once the movie ends. Wong Kar-Wai's style is a symphony of the senses, a joyful ache of the heart and a visual treat. It does not feel as whole as In the mood for love, for in 2026, there are all kinds of definitions for love: ripe, bitter, tasty, unrequited, passionate, denied, lost, fragmented, free, paid for, pawned, fatal.