"Hedonism – A Train to Emptiness and Despair"
What You Need To Know:
Except for the protagonist's intrusive narration, many scenes in 2046 are shot like a silent movie. Although the cinematography is visually stunning, the story surrounding it is very slow going, with little dramatic conflict. Experienced moviegoers may still find the movie alluring, despite its 129-minute length. 2046 also contains some lurid sexual content, nudity and brief foul language, but ultimately shows the emptiness that comes when men and women cannot make romantic or marital commitments to one another.
(PaPa, B, FR, C, L, V, SS, NN, AA, D, M) Strong pagan worldview that, however, shows the emptiness of a hedonistic personal life where there are little or no personal commitments to other people, with brief false religion (a reference to Buddhism and "gods" and a reference later to Fate), and some references to Christmas and Nat King Cole singing "The Christmas Song" by Mel Torme, which marks the passing of time in the movie; four obscenities (no "f" words); light violence includes blood remains on bed where implied murder took place, woman slaps man and arm twisting; depicted fornication, depicted prostitution and serial womanizing; brief upper female nudity in one scene, rear male nudity in one scene and upper male nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking; and, gambling, man holds multiple birthday parties on different calendars so he can collect money to help pay his bills and a subplot involves a Chinese father who forbids his daughter from seeing a Japanese man because of what the Japanese did in China during World War II, but protagonist is sympathetic to the daughter's plight (the protagonist has a light platonic friendship with her).
Some filmmakers excel at creating stunning visual images that take your breath away. China’s acclaimed writer/director Wong Kar Wai is among them, and his latest movie to reach the United States, 2046, cements his reputation as a cinematic visionary.
Basically, the story of 2046 is about a serial womanizer’s memories of his experiences with six women in the 1960s. Played by Tony Leung, Chow moves from being a gambler in Shanghai to being a newspaper reporter and a pulp fiction writer in Hong Kong. Interspersed with his reveries about his relationships with the women in his life are scenes from Chow’s bizarre science fiction novel, 2046. In the novel, a young Japanese man takes an interminable train ride, where he encounters several female androids reminiscent of some of the women whom Chow has known. The title of the movie is not only the title of Chow’s novel, but the apartment number where two of Chow’s real-life lovers stay and the date of Hong Kong’s final integration into the neo-fascist regime of Communist China.
Except for the protagonist’s intrusive narration, many scenes in 2046 are shot like a silent movie. Although the cinematography is visually stunning, the story surrounding it is slow going, with little dramatic conflict (one of Chow’s women falls in love with him, but he is incapable of making a commitment to her). Astute moviegoers may still find the movie’s characters and visuals alluring, despite its 129-minute length. 2046 also contains some lurid sexual content, nudity and foul language, but ultimately shows the emptiness that comes when men and women cannot make romantic or marital commitments to one another. One of the last shots of Chow is of him crunched down alone in the backseat of a taxi, a distraught look of agony and sadness on his face. Apparently, Chow is haunted by a past adulterous affair, but this is only briefly mentioned toward the end (2046 is supposed to be a sequel to Mr. Wong’s IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE in which Mr. Leung also starred as Chow, but this is impossible to tell from this movie).
Although there are political metaphors to Mr. Wong’s 2046, they are not evident from watching the movie. Thus, the moviegoer needs information outside the film text itself to truly understand these and other metaphors. Like the references to the movie’s prequel, this places the viewer at a terrible, unnecessary disadvantage. To those who might be interested, however, one of the best reviews explaining the movie’s themes is by Anton Bitel of Movie Gazette. The link to his review is this: http://www.movie-gazette.com/cinereviews/1086.