No one does longing like writer/director Wong Kar Wai. His critically lauded “In the Mood for Love” not only achieved a melancholy case study of unfulfilled love, but also kept all the moody silences and meaningful pauses mesmerizingly interesting. And “2046,” his long-awaited follow-up, beautifully maintains the same elegantly lovelorn tone.
Though it picks up the storyline of “Mood’s” main character, “2046” is really more of a continuation than a sequel. Chow Mo Wan (Tony Leung, Wong’s perpetual leading man) has changed radically since last seen as “Mood’s” soft-spoken cuckolded husband. Now he is a paperback novelist and serial ladies’ man who allows a long string of various romantic entanglements to float in and out of his life. His inability to choose or claim any one of these women leads Chow to the creation of the titular 2046, a futuristic fantasy world popularized in his novels and so named in honor of the room number of his romantic encounters – past and present.
The overlapping threads of Chow’s revolving-door relationships unfold in the graceful beauty of Wong’s signature soft-palette cinematography