In John Scalzi’s The Rough Guide to Scifi Movies, there’s a chapter on subgenres — scifi comedies, scifi horror, etc. The scifi drama or romance is laughably short. Code 46, Eternal Sunshine, and not much else spring eventually to mind. One of the films listed was 2046, and so for a few years until I struck up the nerve to watch it through a Netflix DVD rental, I always wondered about it.
And I still do.
First fact, it’s not science-fiction — not even remotely. So while this felt like a betrayal of the movie, I understood subconsciously that what I was watching was something special.
Mysterious still, and even to the day, but oddly affecting in a way I wasn’t familiar with, and as such never expected from movies. It made me an instant fan of Wong Kar Wai, whose work has already appeared on this list. He’s a strange filmmaker, whose stories are never fully clear, but whose immediate grasp of visuals and movement is a powerful thing.
Here, we have one of his many favorite actors, Tony Leung (little), returning somewhat off his character from In the Mood for Love. He’s a little older now, a little more mustachioed, but it’s the same setting, with the same woman. Although — she’s flanked by several other famous faces of HK cinema.
What transpires between them feels episodic, and so has a certain storytelling quality that allows for proper characterization within momentum and rhythm. At the same time, for all its intimacy, there’s an alien kind of mood — perhaps this is science-fiction after all, or just the most logical David Lynch movie, or who knows?!
Like with Fallen Angels, I can’t describe this movie or even begin to talk about it. It’s only one of two cases on this list where I have to give up and move on. It’s one I’d like to watch right now, but I know that if I did, I’d be just as stumped on the other side.