2046 ★★★½

"When you don't take 'no' for an answer, there's still a chance to get what you want."

Zhang Ziyi is fantastic; it's heartbreaking to see her be offered and accept money from her "drinking buddy" so as to appear to set the ground rules of his company she wishes to keep, but the saddest moments routinely are when she moves opposite her desire in an attempt to show agency rather than expressing how she feels. This happens again when they reunite and he offers to walk her home and she instead says she'll leave on her own only to hold back at a table and lay her head down. She doesn't show up at his dinner where he promises to reveal a girlfriend to his friends because she knows she is not that.

2046 is a bit of a mess, bringing back characters from previous WKW films, traveling through futuristic texts, and our guide is a man who's suffered heartache and chooses to inflict emotional pain to keep himself safe in distance. What works really well, in addition to the framing—often using parts of doors/windows to keep us with partial views of the interiors—which keeps us aware all the time how our viewpoints don't let us see all that's in front of us, is the new character that Zhang plays. While Wong Kar-Wai is playing with memory and missed chances, the strongest narrative, like his visual choice, is obscured and kept aside the ajar door. This is the point, yes, but in a film stuffed with interactions, only a handful really resonate and the distance from moving on from them is keenly felt.

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