2046 isn't something that goes down the throat easily. For one, it is not linear, and there are a lot of things that need explaining. Like when Chow said that that was the last time he saw Zhang Ziyi, and then they met up again. What the hell was that? I saw the film with a couple of friends who hadn't exactly seen all of Wong Kar Wai's movies, which made it a bit difficult because the film refers to the previous films, particularly In the Mood for Love and Days of Being Wild.
But what I like though is that it resonates and echoes. That all memory is pain, and pain is memory and remembrance. That the Tony Leung character made an unexplained appearance at the end of Days of Being Wild. That it seemed like an afterthought--him standing in front of a mirror, combing back slick hair, cigarettes and shadows. That when we saw him again in In the Mood for Love, he had this unconsummated (was it really?) affair with Maggie Cheung, which explains the recurring taxi sequences, but this time with covert hand actions. That this affair probably left him hurt, but he didn't want anyone to know that so he whispered his secret into a hole in a tree and sealed it in mud. So that when 2046 rolled along, everyone had secret pains that they had to release. Even the android with delayed reaction tries to whisper her own secrets. The repetition of action haunts you.
Part of me understands why Chow became such a cad. That love is all about timing. It was heartbreaking to watch Zhang Ziyi and her throve of tens stashed in a canister under the bed. Or when that lady talks out loud in Japanese in the next room, how they can't get together. If you think about it, if you're a character in a Wong Kar Wai movie and you fall in love, that affair is doomed.
So what is this film saying? You're not going to get your happy ending. That we're probably all doomed to live and process the same pain over and over again. That when pain bites you, you get the urge to bite back anything and everything that presents itself to you. That even if you try to "fictionalize" the experience and set it in the future, transform yourself into a Japanese man, you will still find yourself in a vicious cycle. Nobody ever gets together in a WKW world and live through it unscathed.
If you're in a Wong Kar Wai film, there are so few places to eat that you will bump into the people who caused you pain and you will have to make them dedma. Or that your hotel has only one phone in the lobby and you better be quick or you'll be at the bitching end of dedma. Or that you're doomed to listen to the same songs over and over again. Your world is excruciatingly small, but at least, you will always be fabulous and slick and you have nice clothes.
There's also this little Scorpio Nights moment in the film where Tony Leung peeks into this hole and he sees the other girl sleeping with someone and his tears fall through. I still don't understand everything in the movie. Probably need to sit through it 2 or 3 more times, and that's after watching Days of Being Wild and In the Mood for Love again. Maybe then I'll get illuminated.