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Three things to remember when you see '2046'

Posted at 5:32 PM on August 25, 2005 by Euan Kerr

Euan Kerr sitting in again....

Director Wong Kar Wai says his new movie '2046' is not a sequel to his critically acclaimed 'In the Mood for Love,' but more of a continuation. The action spins around Mr Chow, (Tony Leung) whose love affair with Maggie Cheung was the central vortex in 'Mood.' In '2046' Mr Chow is still making a living as a writer, but he is unsuccessful in his efforts to rediscover the love he has lost. This is despite Chow's series of flings with women played by some of the most glamorous ladies in Hong Kong cinema, including Zhang Ziyi (Leung's co-star in 'Hero,') Gong Li and Faye Wong.

The title is taken from Chow's room number, which he uses for a science fiction story he writes about a train that travels to the year 2046, a place where people can recover lost memories. The story is written from the viewpoint of the first person to return. It's a sumptuous visual treat, that goes for atmosphere more than action.

Much of the film takes place in the beaten down confines of a scruffy 1960's Hong Kong motel, but Wong Kar Wai squeezes stunning image after stunning image from its tiny rooms.

Which brings me to the first of the three things to remember:

1) Make sure you see this on a big screen. It will look pretty on a TV set, but in a proper theater this is a film that has the potential to envelop you with its beauty.

2) Wong Kar Wei doesn't use much of a script. When Tony Leung came through the Twin Cities a few months back to publicize the film, he admitted he never saw much more than the day's script, and that a great deal was improvized. With the twisting plot lines, he said that it wasn't until he saw the movie at the premiere, that he finally learned the whole plot.

3) A pencil mustache can be a powerful tool. Leung says when Wong Kar Wai gave his his first instructions on how to the play the part for '2046,' he told Leung just to play Chow the same as in 'In the Mood for Love.' As an actor Leung found this almost impossible to do, as there was nothing new to explore. He asked the director if he could grow a mustache. Wong said no. After a great deal of struggle Leung was able to convince the director that he needed the facial hair, however minimal, to develop the role. Eventually the mustache got the go-ahead and Leung built an entire character around it.

Leung uses every follicle to it's full extent. People looking for a linear plot may find this film a challenge. But if you are the kind of person who likes to let a movie just wash over you, then '2046' is an amazing treat.

[Note Euan Kerr's feature A cinematic elegy on love, made possible by a moustache, or rate and review this movie]

August 2005
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