Rated R for having some pretty intense sexual stuff in it. While there is only a little bit of very mild nudity, the constant jumping to sex is a bit much. I regularly had to keep the volume down and almost felt like I was watching something offensive, despite the fact that much of the sex happens off screen. There's also a murder in the film, but it is so brief and doesn't really play into the film that much. It's very tame. It definitely deserves the R rating, but the film isn't graphic-graphic. R.
DIRECTOR: Wong Kar-Wai
Oh man, I don't know what it is about me and finish lines. I'm so close to finishing this box set. I have time to write last night. I have time to write this morning. What do I do? I procrastinate. It's such a nice day. I have actual peace and I decide to fill it with trash. This is all admonishing myself because I've been actually jazzed to write about this movie. I even have the 2046 soundtrack playing in the background, which is absolutely gorgeous. So here I am, about to write 1000+ words (I imagine) about how I don't necessarily understand anything.
2046, after watching it for the second time in my life, is oddly made specifically for me. Not me the first time I watched it. It was made for me now: a Tim that decided to spend the last few months slowly watching the complete works of Wong Kar-Wai without realizing that 2046 acts more like a coda to the entire Wong Kar-Wai experience rather than a traditional sequel. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the movie now that it's done. I should take it quite positively because I want to tell all my grown up film studios to do a double-feature of this and In the Mood for Love, a movie that they all swooned over. This is all leading me to something that leaves me conflicted. 2046 acts as a sequel to In the Mood for Love and Days of Being Wild, both movies that I enjoyed. I'll be honest with you, I don't remember the details of Days of Being Wild. That's weird because I didn't watch it that long ago. But when you watch a box set of the same style movies, they do bleed together a bit. It's the problem with binging movies. But moving on, In the Mood for Love intentionally leaves off in this moment without a clean ending.
There's something very personal about In the Mood for Love with me. Perhaps I naturally want to use Chow as an avatar for myself, despite not having similar situations. I imbue Chow with my own morals and philosophies because he is so relatable. I always view In the Mood for Love as a morality tale because Chow tortures himself for love throughout the film. The ending is so bittersweet because he denies himself happiness with Su Li-zhen, knowing that an affair, no matter how justified, would corrupt them and pervert their real feelings. In my mind, Chow becomes almost a hermit, enduring this loneliness because he knows that he has experienced true love that must remain unrequited. So to have a sequel that has the emotional reality of the previous film, but in a perverted perspective kind of bothers me. I mean, it's right. Chow is a person with needs. He is despondent because he'll never know the happiness that he could have embraced had he been more selfish in In the Mood for Love. But I don't like the idea that he uses people.
It is because I have used him as an avatar. When Chow does the noble thing and embraces a life without Su Li-zhen, I feel like he's overcome the greatest moral hurtle in his life. What does that say about me? One of the greatest compliments that I can give Wong Kar-Wai is that he makes me questions myself and my own moral choices through his storytelling. Now, I can distance myself from a work of fiction and say that I wouldn't do the same thing as Chow. But he creates that doubt. So when I say that his sequel doesn't work the way I think it would, I have to question everything about myself. Yeah, it makes me kind of vapid, but critical thinking is acknowledging that I don't always have all the answers. It's just that Chow kind of becomes the thing that he despised in the world around him in the first movie. Not even taking into consideration the adulterous spouses that were juxtaposed to the protagonists, Chow's co-worker represented the expectations of men in the '60s, lustful and selfish. To see Chow exhibiting similar traits, is such a bummer that I take it personally. And the weird part is that he acts in these lustful ways in a somewhat classier way.
To add to that whole argument, despite Chow's change of personality, it actually kind of supports the message of the first film. I can rally all day long to say that Chow shouldn't be "that guy," but it adds to the notion that Chow never really leaves happy. The story becomes about the multiple women who make impacts in his life after he moves to Singapore. These women are not the woman he left, despite the fact that one of them shares a name with Su Li-zhen. They all have elements to them. But like Chow is a perversion of the man he was in the first film, these women are dark mirrors to what he lost in the first film. As gross as he is at times, they tend to bring positive traits to him as well. It's odd, what traits can be echoed in other people that challenge Chow from the world he created. I don't know if the universe really works like that, but it almost plays with the notion of fate or God. Of course he meets someone in Room 2046. Of course he meets another writer. Of course he meets someone with the same name. There is something mystical about the world of Wong Kar-Wai that isn't overt. When Chow talks about locking his secrets in a tree, it doesn't scream that there's a mystical energy in the universe. But we, as audience members, are asked to choose to accept that or reject it. The fact that he runs into these echoes of a person can be interpreted either way. The brilliant part is that Kar-Wai never really confronts his audience and demands that they put faith on the line. Instead, it just gives insight into the self.
I don't know what to say about the sci-fi stuff. It does something. (If you have ever seen me writing something with a metaphorical gun to my head, this is it.) I have to make a decision about my feelings regarding the sci-fi stuff because it is such an important element. I love that 2046 messes with the notion of what a quasi-sequel should be. The film opens with a heavy 2004 CG landscape and a conceit that the world of 2046 is something different. It tells a story that is both canonical and a fairy tale. The In the Mood for Love sections treat it as something that is made up by Chow, an author. But the film starts with that, so the Chow story may be fictional. And it challenges the audience. It so is so visually striking and jarring, that it doesn't allow the audience to ignore it. But it somehow simultaneously too underdeveloped and too much at the same time. The safe part of me would say that the future world of 2046 and the train should be its own short film. But that would also dismiss the very scant, but necessary connections to the other stories. I like it, but I don't know why I like it.
The funny thing is that, on Letterboxd, I'm going to have to rate this film. A lot of me wants to give it five-stars. I loved it. But I'm also really confused about elements. I am coming to terms with a film that culminates everything that I just watched for the last few months in not-an-abstract-way. It is a gorgeous piece of work that goes beyond like / dislike. It's somewhere else. I'm sure that there's a German word for this specific emotion, but I don't have that word.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.