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This is a very special film - one of my desert island films - which I never tire of watching. Beautifully shot and lit so that every scene is like a painting. The performances are understated and nuanced so that watching again brings new meaning. The music adds poignancy to a tale of unrequited love. No “action”, no car chases and not a gun in sight. The dramatic tension comes from the frisson between the characters, the angst and self-denial. Achingly beautiful film!
A tale of alienation, as two neighbours in a brilliantly evoked cramped sixties Hong Kong apartment block are gradually drawn together by the discovery of a shared secret. Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung as the leads are one of the finest screen couples in film. The complex emotions are so controlled, this is a film where some of the most high tension scenes happen when they aren't even in the same room, but some of the moments captured along the way are just stunning.
The new BluRay Edition is simply outstanding. Print quality and sound, you could not ask for better. The extra's WOW - lot of 2012 additional material, including a documentary that shows almost an hours worth of production footage that shows the original (largly funny!) original storyline, including a super cool dance number excerpt (deleted as too funny?). Specials on the soundtrack and much more -- I did not realize it was shot twice for instance (with Doyle quitting with the prospect of doing it again). Just amazing. Highly recommended. Let's hope they do it with 2046 next!
* * * * I watched this movie late one night about a year ago on a 27 in TV. The pacing seemed slow and I was falling sleep through most of it. I decided to watch it again last night on my 42 inch TV and that alone made a huge difference, and also I was "in the mood" for watch a movie to try to understand the message.
First, you need to slow the introduction's written message down so you can read and ponder it a bit so that you are "in the mood" to discover its importance. I found after that I was totally interested in the story as it unfolded.
It has a really unusual "clips" feeling of giving us KEY glimpse of these two lonely people's lives. Maggie Cheung's character is witness (and accomplice really) to her boss having an affair on his wife; so she knows the signs and does not know how to react in a culture that has a belief system of "normal" and when the reality is not like that - hypocrisy and denial seem the "norm". Tony Leung's character is also helping his friend in being a womanizer - repeating several times, he is not like his friend. Both characters do it passively, but the world's reality around them - eventually to include their own spouses - makes them increasingly alone in the belief of how loving people treat each other.
There one big irony .. the betrail of Maggie Cheung's character when the relationship and love shared between these two people - almost a misfit in the "reality" of that culture; Maggie chooses to live the illusion.
Another interesting thing is TIMING; introduce in a sequence near the end when Tony and Maggie both visit the apartment building years later - as that love had anchored memories of happiness to it; or the possibility of happiness. He does not realize she is living there as a tenant in his old apartment says the old owner moved out and a "woman and child" live there now. He pauses at her door, as if about to knock, but continues on past. A moment of perfect potential timing - perhaps ignoring intuition (he brought a gift) being missed. Or would the past behaviours of denial and debating reality and illusion be followed?
Possible elements: in the out takes they do have sex; I wondered if the child was his? Also they meet years later (again in the out takes)and basically end up going their own ways - past pattern repeated, another opportunity missed.
Finally, there is a LOT similar in 2046 - the round openings and the openings and windows in 2046. The hallway with the round lights on the roof, and the hallways on the 2046 train. A lot of the dialogue is repeated, such as "sometimes your emotions catch you unaware" or "sometime feelings can creep up on you ..." I was pleasaantly surprised how well 2046 was an excellent follow up.