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lUll llx‘lb‘llt‘, t \l\l' Slt‘lx‘\ 2046 (12A) 128mm 0...

It‘s been five years in the making and there have been endless rumours of reshoots, re- edits, and disputes with creative collaborators. Scheduled to close last summer’s EIFF, Wong Kar-wai‘s sumptuous tale of romantic heartbreak is now finally ready to be released: the end result is a work which combines formal cinematic brilliance with an operatic intensity of feeling.

2046 is not a straightforward sequel to In the Mood for Love, although it does revisit the earlier film’s main male character, the writer and cuckolded husband Chow (Tony Leung). It‘s now the late 19605 and the latter has returned to Hong Kong, where he leads a hedonistic lifestyle, picking up women such as Zhang Ziyi’s dancer Bai Ling, but finding himself unable to commit to any lasting relationships. He‘s still haunted by his memories of Maggie Cheung's Su Li Zhen from In the Mood of Love and a gambler that he became involved with in Singapore, also called Su Li Zhen

(Gong Li). Chow is also working on a science-fiction story 2046, in which a train takes people to a destination where lost memories can be recaptured. Author Chow’s fictional creations however are clearly based on his personal experiences, including his unreciprocated infatuation with an hotelier’s daughter (Faye Wong.

Cutting between different time frames, the film uses extensive voice-over to bind us to Chow's emotional predicaments. Unsurprisingly for Wong this is an impressively acted and gorgeous looking spectacle: greens and golds dominate the palette. A beautiful cast is trapped in strikingly lit interiors, with fetishistic attention paid to hair-dos, shoes and cigarettes. Blending Nat King Cole, Bellini, and Latin dance songs, the soundtrack deliberately repeats itself, reinforcing the sense of Chow’s own compulsive behaviour. This is perhaps Wong’s darkest, most fatalistic work: happiness is poignantly fleeting, and escaping from one’s past an impossible burden. (Tom Dawson)

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