Simone’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is an interesting approach to doing a sequel. It's a completely different type of film tonally and thematically from In the Mood for Love, but stylistically, it is yet another Wong Kar-Wai masterpiece. Wong Kar-Wai has a distinctive visual style of story-telling that is growing on me with every new film I experience from him. It isn't the most accessible, but it sure is masterful. If In the Mood for Love is a meditation on loneliness and regret, then 2046 is mainly a meditation on the aftermath of the destruction loneliness and regret cause. This is a much deeper and richer film in terms of themes, which are explored through a nested narrative structure; it's a fictional story of the future within a remembrance of a story from the past.
Our protagonist, Mr. Chow, decided to leave Hong Kong for Singapore at the end of In the Mood for Love, and now he's back. It's a tumultuous time politically in Hong Kong, so the atmosphere is much less tranquil and quiet than in the first film. The first film had this subtle sensuality to it, but this one is much more in your face and sexually explicit. I think it's important in developing the character of Mr. Chow because you get to see the consequences of his actions and how they change him as a person. He goes from hesitant and resisting temptation in the first film to going after what he wants with confidence and recklessness in this film.
I think what this film also demonstrates is how contagious the ills of love are. He was unlucky in love and it ruined him, and now when someone else falls in love with him, he breaks them, too. He knows this, he's incredibly self-aware, and he only just barely apologizes for it. You can still tell he's a good person, he's just been beaten down by life and has possibly spent the majority of the love he was going to be capable of giving in life to Mrs. Chan. I don't think he's living in the past anymore during this film. He's enjoying a new phase in his life, even if he's still filled with regret and longing.
When he is talking about the novel he wrote called 2047, it is based on the time he spent in a hotel room numbered 2046. The way that the futuristic world looks is spectacular, and the androids are breathtakingly beautiful. Wong Kar-Wai really knows how to cast beautiful leads! The way the past is shot is just as important as the way the fictional future is, as each one gets their own visual style and cue. The differences between them visually is wonderful to behold, even if they are subtle. The fictional future almost feels more grounded in reality than the supposedly real story from the past. It's an interesting way to think about the difference between memories and imagination, but how neither can be wholly true.
Soon I'll watch Days of Being Wild, which is supposed to be a precursor to In the Mood for Love. I really loved this sequel, so if you've seen In the Mood for Love and didn't know this was the sequel, I suggest watching both together. It's a wonderful cinematic experience!