Monday, September 12, 2005

2046 (2005)

I'm probably not enough of a Wong Kar-wai fan to appreciate this film. But then, maybe that's the problem. I'm sure this is amazing if you know Wong's filmography inside and out, but I find it lacking. It's amazing to look at, true. It's a wonderfully sensual film, but it's also a bit insubstantial. Part of the problem is that it's languid to the point of somnolence. There's a scene late in the film which has a character waiting on a train intercut by title cards with increasingly drawn-out timespans. Admittedly, the image of this character waiting forever to arrive at a somewhere that never comes has burned itself into my mind. It's an effective bit of filmmaking. But when the title card reading "1000 Hours Later" sprang up, I couldn't help but think that I knew how that character felt. Also, this is a memory piece, for better and worse, and part of the worse is that the female characters are ciphers with the exception of the luminous Zhang Ziyi. She's excellent here, but more importantly her character has an edge that supplies the film's emotional fulcrum. When she's all but written out halfway through, the film dissipates. (If In the Mood for Love was the filmic equivalent of blue-balls, this would be cinematic premature ejaculation.) Faye Wong has some good moments, but not enough (and I don't think the sci-fi elements in which she prominently figures work very well at all); Gong Li, meanwhile, shows up for about ten minutes in an interlude that may be completely unnecessary. (Maggie Cheung also pops up in a couple scenes, I guess just to remind us that we could be watching In the Mood for Love instead.) It's handsome but self-indulgent and ultimately not terribly impressive. Like Lynch's Wild at Heart or Argento's Opera, this one's for the fanboys and nobody else. Pity.

Grade: C+


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