He was a writer. He thought he wrote about the future but it really was the past. In his novel, a mysterious train left for 2046 every once in a while. Everyone who went there had the same intention…..to recapture their lost memories. It was said that in 2046, nothing ever changed. Nobody knew for sure if it was true, because nobody who went there had ever come back- except for one. He was there. He chose to leave. He wanted to change.

Winning 6 Hong Kong Film Awards, as well as two Golden Horse Awards, 2046 finally made good on several years of waiting for Wong Kar Wai (王家衛) fans. With echoes of blade runner in a futuristic view of Hong Kong, a vivid picture of Hong Kong in the 1960’s and several sex scenes with Zhang Zi Yi (章子怡), the movie also has what it takes to reach a wider audience.

Despite the fractured nature of the movie, hopping back and forth between the future and the past, it is a simple story. It is the tale of an emotionally wrecked man, Chow Mo Wan (played by Tony Leung), and the many beautiful women whom he loves and loses. The entire movie is a stream of consciousness, a jumble of Chow’s torrid love affairs, love spats, and the ensuing heartbreaks.

Chow’s isn’t an easily likeable character due to his constant inability to be open with himself or others. It’s as if he has a mask, covering his true emotions that cannot be broken by the women who love him. Instead, it is he who breaks them. However he is an extremely real and complex character, and as a result, believable.

Another interesting thing about this movie is that in many if not most of the dialogues, the two people speaking are speaking different languages. Chow speaks Cantonese, and Cantonese only. His landlord speaks nothing but Mandarin. The landlord’s daughter is dating a Japanese man who answers her only in Japanese. Even the character in Chow’s futuristic novel is a Japanese man speaking to Mandarin-speaking robots. While the language issue is never addressed openly (i.e. nobody ever has problems understanding the other’s language), one has to wonder if this was to increase the sense of Chow’s isolation amidst all of his friends.

Chow is clearly a man capable of loving deeply. What he needs to know if his love is unrequited. And in seeking happiness, the message seems to be that there is no other way.

Rating: 4/5