2046I’d been wanting to see this one since I saw the super-cool trailer for it well over a year ago, and after missing it at the local arthouse theatre, I was glad to finally see it on DVD. Although I haven’t seen all of Won Kar Wai’s films, I knew that 2046 would be sumptuous to look at, but hoped that it would steer clear of some more of his vague tendencies.

That’s not to say that I mind non-linear storytelling in films, because I really do if it’s done well. 2046 had a fascinating concept in that it pulled together both a period piece (the late 60s) about a journalist and writer while at the same time blending in futuristic subplots (based around the writing of the aforementioned character). I was correct to expect that the film would be a feast, and it seems that all the stops are pulled out on this film, with just about every shot oozing with gorgeous color, awesome framing, and other little tricks that pull the viewer in.

That said, the film is frustrating at times, in more ways than one. Although it makes for some beautiful visuals, the futuristic elements of the story never feel like they quite mesh with the rest of the story, and while there are some interesting plays on time elapsing, the film is also broken up with overl pretentious chapter-headings like “All Memories Are Traces Of Tears.” In addition, the film makes vague references to cultural events taking place in the region at the time, but never really delves into them. That’s a small nitpick, but since it doesn’t seem to affect the characters at all in their insular little world, it feels a bit distracting to even bring them up.

Now that I’ve mentioned what annoyed me, I will say that the acting was uniformly outstanding. Lead man Tony Leung was great as a character that exudes smoothness in an attempt to cover his hollow emotional core, while Zhang Ziyi gave what might be her most varied performance yet (from playful to cold to emotionally shattered).

The structure (or lack thereof) will turn off a lot of viewers, but when the film really gets down to business, it’s quite good. In that regard, it should probably be more frustrating to me (especially given the less-than-sympathetic main character), but I still mostly enjoyed it and had my jaw dropped by the lavish visuals for a good portion of the film (which may indeed be why I was willing to overlook some of the less-cogent sections).