This sequel to In The Mood For Love is more up my alley. Tony Leung has a bit of a personality transplant and becomes a playboy, gambler and pulp novelist – indulging in all the vices he wouldn't allow himself as a dutiful but unhappily married man. Losing Maggie Cheung will do that to a fellow. Perhaps this past idealised but renounced love affair makes it impossible to commit anymore. Leung becomes even more of an observer, he's more distanced and cold towards the women he gets involved with. That aloofness is matched by Zhang Ziyi, but while the steamy affair she eventually succumbs to leads her to fall in love, Leung pushes her away. In a telling monetary metaphor, he's quite happy to buy affection, but he refuses to sell it.

Leung becomes a viewpoint character in what is a more distended and unfocused film – it's a bit more of a portmanteau like Chunking Express. Like that film, 2046 gives Faye Wong a happy ending running off with a young lover. The most bizarre addition to Wong Kar-Wai's repertoire is how that story filters through to a sci-fi novel Leung is writing, where his own feelings and reminiscences come to the fore. Leung is attracted to Faye, but recognises that it would be wrong to take advantage of this young idealist. Renunciation of love is what anchors Leung's personality – but he's sympathetic enough to give Faye Wong and Zhang Ziyi a way out of Hong Kong and an opportunity for a brighter future abroad.

The film doesn't add up to very much, and it seems to have changed quite a bit over a long period of development. It was originally meant to be shot in Shanghai, and wasn't supposed to be a sequel. The linking technique of a hotel room number was arrived at a bit randomly, and gradually the film started merging with In The Mood For Love. It could have turned into a mess (some might think it is a mess), but somehow in the edit Wong Kar-Wai manages to create a sense of momentum across the disparate plot strands. It might be my favourite thing he's done – Tony Leung has probably never been more handsome and charming, and Zhang Ziyi's passionate performance really gives the film a powerful punch.

No comments:

Post a Comment