Time Out saysWong Kar-Wai’s long-awaited, sumptuous follow-up to ‘In the Mood for Love’ makes for a rapturous cinematic experience. It’s not just the stunning production design (William Chang), exquisite camerawork (Chris Doyle, Lai Yiu Fai, Kwan Pun Leung) and superbly used music (various artists and composers, including Shigeru Umebayashi), which together give the film the febrile intensity of a nineteenth-century opera (Bellini features on the track). It’s also the subtlety and complexity that distinguish Wong’s charting of the emotional odyssey undergone by Chow Mo Wan (Tony Leung) as he goes through a series of relationships with different but likewise lovely women: a prostitute (Ziyi Zhang), a gambler (Gong Li), a cabaret singer (Carina Lau), and his landlord’s daughter (Faye Wong).
With such beauties surrounding him, you’d expect Chow to be happy, but the film mainly takes place in the mid-’60s, the years immediately following his heart-breaking encounter with a married woman (Maggie Cheung in ‘In the Mood for Love’). It’s a relationship that still shades and shapes his reactions to every woman he meets, and it therefore also influences the allegorical sci-fi novel he’s writing, set in the year 2046 (after the number on a hotel-room door) but inspired by his own memories and desires… Wong intercuts scenes from this book with Chow’s various affairs and non-affairs, allowing Wong to build layer upon bittersweet layer of meaning in a work as cerebrally rewarding as it is sensually seductive. It may help if you grasp the many allusions to Wong’s earlier films (including, notably, ‘Days of Being Wild’), but it’s far from necessary. This, after all, is undeniably real cinema.
Fri Jan 14, 2005