2046 ★★★★★

If ever there were a movie that deserved a Criterion treatment, this is it. Such a shame that the best way to watch it is an out-of-print DVD that will run you $80 and some change if you want to pick it up on Amazon (speaking of which, don't watch this on Amazon Prime; the resolution is garbage, and with a film like this, which is so reliant on its visuals, you're better off either watching it properly or not at all). To me, "2046" represents Wong Kar-Wai at his most stylistically rich, striking a balance between the deliberate restraint of "In the Mood for Love" and the flourishes and excesses that mark his earlier works like "Fallen Angels" and "Chungking Express." The result is a film that, at least superficially, revels in sex and debauchery; that revelry, however, masks an underlying feeling of emptiness at the heart of Mr. Chow, now single and ready to mingle and sporting a deliriously sleazy pencil mustache. Heartbroken by the events of "In the Mood for Love," Chow returns as a shameless womanizer, snatching up any female unfortunate enough to fall into his clutches as though making up for lost time (though he does show some admirable restraint with Faye Wong's character, a subplot that hit me much harder this time around than it ever has before). This is Chow's movie through and through, and Tony Leung absolutely crushes it. Despite the striking compositions, vivid colors, and heavenly soundtrack, I don't think this movie would work at all without Tony Leung. His sensitivity and connection to the character is what truly sells me on this as a sequel to "In the Mood for Love." I finished the film this time wondering if I'm still on my way back from 2046 -- wondering how long I will be waiting on this damned train for a station that may or may not even exist. The past is seductive, but it is also static, unchanging, and liable to foster stagnation in the heart of any man that might linger in its cool, enveloping shade. We are all slaves to time, and time makes fools of us all -- especially the broken-hearted. But, if Chow is any indication, there may yet be some hope that we can move on and escape 2046, though not without a long, dreary, arduous wait. We may yet be trapped on these rails for a while, but at least we're moving somewhere -- anywhere -- that isn't here.

This is a lovely film, one of Wong Kar-Wai's best. Highly recommended, especially for fans of "In the Mood for Love."

Also, I know I have said previously that Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne was the most beautiful woman to ever walk the planet, but Ziyi Zhang makes a strong case for rightfully usurping that throne. She also delivers the second best performance of the film -- simply heartbreaking.

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