Wesley R. Ball’s review published on Letterboxd:
Before I joined Letterboxd, I actually wasn't aware that there was a sequel to In the Mood for Love, and until just recently I wasn't even aware that it and 2046 were actually the second and third installments in a trilogy. I didn't expect 2046 to be nearly as good as the last installment, but it genuinely surprised me how closely the film matched the elegance and tenacity that the last film brings. Now, I only have to watch Days of Being Wild, although I find myself becoming more and more hesitant about doing so, for fear of finding it far inferior to the last two. Perhaps sometime soon I'll garner enough interest in myself to take the plunge to watch it, as I'm sure that my fears are all for naught.
2046 was classified as a sci-fi movie on IMDb (a reliable source, I know), leading me to believe that it was set in the far-off future with a couple in some futuristic dystopian romance setting. While watching In the Mood for Love, however, I caught on pretty quickly as to what the title of the sequel was actually referring to, and I found it quite touching how the protagonist infuses his own personal life with themes and attributes in the stories he writes.
I love the way Wong Kar-wai depicts and describes each romance that our protagonist experiences as the film progresses, like a series of short and sad vignettes, as he is always looking back on the one time where he had the one love he was meant for in his grasp. In the Mood for Love casts a great shadow on the story of 2046, and we are consistently haunted by the memories of Su LI-zhen and the thoughts of what could have been. No matter how many new and exciting romances Chow Mo-wan finds himself whisked into, the thoughts and regrets of just a few years past always stick with him, leaving a regretful stamp on his memory.
2046 is a beautiful film that reaches the heights that In the Mood for Love attained, but feels slightly less elegant in its presentation. There is a haunting string score like the last film, and there is plenty of beautiful low-shutter cinematography, as Wong Kar-wai is so familiar and in love with. I love how he depicted a little of the fiction that the protagonist writes and describes, as it helps in personifying the aura of regret that drives his work. It's not completely the indelible masterpiece that In the Mood for Love is, but it's no less beautiful or memorable.