Directed by Wong Kar-Wai, starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Zhang Ziyi, Faye Wong, Wang Sum, Li Gong and Carina Lau.
Wong's previous film 'In the Mood for Love' explored Mr Chow's (Leung) relationship with a married woman – Su Lizhen, which is the driving force behind his actions in '2046'. In his relationships with four women, he attempts to recreate his earlier experience, but ultimately discovers it can't be recaptured.
Having returned to Hong Kong from Singapore in the late 1960s, Chow rents room 2047 in a hotel owned by Mr Wang (Wang Sum). He begins to write stories about a place and time called 2046, where nothing ever changes and people can resurrect lost memories. But in real life, 2046 is the number of a hotel room, where he and Su Lizhen once spent a passionate afternoon. In Mr Wang's hotel, room 2046 was occupied by Lulu (Carrina Lau), a woman Chow knew in Singapore who was killed by a jealous boyfriend.
When Miss Bai (Zhang Zyi) moves into the room, she and Chow begin an affair, which he coldly undervalues by paying for her services when she would rather he was with her for love. Chow's relationship with Mr Wang's daughter Jingwen (Wong) is different in that, though he loves her, she is still in love with her Japanese boyfriend, whom her father won't allow her to see.
With these relationships, including one with a mysterious gambler back in Singapore (played by Gong Li), Chow is attempting to recreate something he has lost, but he's also looking for the woman that's right for him. The gambler had the same name as his married lover, but couldn't escape her past; Lulu seemed to lead a very complicated and violent life that Chow never really understood; Miss Bai was passionate and in love with him, but Chow didn't love her and Jingwen loved another man. With each relationship, Wong presents love as a matter of timing, an almost clockwork-type entity that must have all its cogs in the right place for it to work.
'2046' is sometimes very beautiful in its cinematography with some scenes taking place in slow motion and the futuristic imagery really intriguing. You don't need to have seen 'In the Mood for Love' to understand and enjoy this, which is good. It's a little too drawn out though; Wong makes his point long before the end and the last half-hour feels unnecessary. It's an interesting take on the concept of love, but '2046' runs out of steam quite early on.