2046 (2004) was not really what I expected. It is not about a noir-inspired futuristic world of cyborgs and technology. But it is. It is not about love and loss and heartbreak. But it is.
Its narrative is a double helix: on the one hand there is story of journalist turned pulp-fiction writer and man about town, Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu Wai). It is 1966 and Chow is living the high life in Hong Kong, farm from the hurt and heartbreak of his relationship with Su Li-zhen (Li Gong).
On the other side is a sleek and stylised future. In an age with all memory is outlawed, a man is trapped on a train trying to escape the place he most desperately wishes to return to, 2046. But 2046 is a construction founded on failed love and heartbreak. His high-speed prison torments him. All he longs for is love, but that is hard to find when you are the sanitised and emotionless company of android spectres that echo reality in removed yet tragically connected ways.
As he breezes from one fling to another he avoids dealing with his emotional turmoil. But when his womanising exploits peak with a dramatic fling with local dance-hall hostess, Bai Ling (Ziyi Zhang) his past catches up with him. His strength, charm and with gives way to triviality and lifestyle revealing him as fictional as the stories he churns out.