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After having split up with Su (Gong Li), Chow (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) moves
from Singapore to Hong Kong
where he meets an old love, Lulu (Carina Lau)
again, who seems to have forgotten everything about him ... a few days later,
she is found murdered in her hotelroom (roomnumber 2046, hence the title),
& for some reason (no reason at all), Chow decides to take exactly this
room, & when he can't get the room, he takes the room opposite, 2047.
he starts doing some pimping (a man has to live, & as a writer, Chow's
financial situation is rather sad). One das, he meets his new neighbour from
2046, Bai-Ling (Zhang Ziyi), falls for her exceptional beauty & tries
everything to bed her ... eventually he is successful, & she really falls
in love with him ... but he blows it when he proposes to pay her. Her heart a
bit broken, Bai-ling accepts the money, & from now on charges him every
time they have sex ... Soon though, emotions like passion & jealousy get in
the way of their stupid arrangement, & eventually he even wants to charge
her ... & some day she's just gone.
Then Chow meets hotel owner Wang's
(Wang Sum) daughter Jing Wen (Faye Wong) & has sympathy with the girl whom
her father forbids to even receive loveletters from her Japanese lover ... so
Chow proposes that her lover whould send the loveletters adressed tohim
& he would give them to her ... naturally, she accepts, & soon she
& Chow get to know each other better, & he learns that she, too,
writes, but only as a hobby, & before long, they start writing a martial
arts novel together. Of course, it is n ot long before Chow falls in love with
her, & he incorporates this lovestory into a science fiction story he
writes, about the weird world of 2046 (the room number, translating into
the year), where time stands still & where nobody ever came back from.
There, his hero/he finds an android train attendant (of course it's Jing Wen)
whom the hero falls in love with ... but he can'T make her fall in love with
him too, because she is in love with somebody else ...
Back in real life,
Jing Wen soon leaves for Japan to marry ...
Chow then goes back to Singapore
to find Su again, who long ago saved him from losing everything in gambling,
& the woman he always really loved ... but to no avail.
Back in Hong
Kong, Chow meets Bai Ling again, who meanhile went through some bad experiences
& wants to leave for Singapore with his help. She also wants to rekindle
their lovestory, but he refuses to break her heart again, instead makes her one
of his characters in 2046 ...
On a visual level, this film is
a pure feast, every sinly image seems to be carefully composed & of a
striking beauty ... but as ever so often with Wong Kar Wai, this cannot obscure
the fact that the story is lacking the depth it pretends to have & is not
even too carefully told ...
The main problem is that the film tries too much
at once: Iit tries to be a science fiction film, a tale of intertwining reality
& fantasy, a piece of (message-)cinema about true love (gone wrong), and a
short story collection about people in a hotel (with several of the short
stories lacking either beginning, middle or ending). & in all this mess,
the main character remains totally featureless: in one story he is a gambler,
pimp & prick (the story of Bai Ling),while inthe next story he is a
sympathetic quiet, even shy man of deep emotions (the story of Jing Wen) with
nothing there to motivate his change of mood.
Now let me get this straight,
the film is not all bad, it's wonderful to look at ... but the actual story
seems to be abit lost onthe audience ... which makes it (running over 2 hours)
a tad long to sit through.