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A four-year shoot might seem torture to some directors. Not this one. "For me," he says, "to make films is like a circus. We should just go from one town to another, always on the road, stopping when we think we should stop. To me, if there's no Cannes, you can make 2046 for another year." Is it a circus or a love affair, whose ending he both dreads and prays for? As Chow says in the movie, "You can't leave 2046. You can only hope it leaves you." Filmmaking for Wong Kar-wai is like an addiction, benign but incurable.
"It's very hard," he acknowledges. "At the end you just want to get away from it. A few weeks ago, we finished the final mix. And I realized that you have to say goodbye to this project, and you feel very, very ..." His voice trails off. "I know it's not easy. I know it's not a normal practice to make a film for four years. And I'm not sure we'll be able or willing to do that again in the future. This is a very special film. It is the hardest to let go. But you have to let go. And that's it."
Which is stronger: his love for the challenge and camaraderie of making a film or the heartache he feels when it's over? Maybe the two emotions are equally potent, since Wong makes movies that blend those two subjects: the coming together, the drifting apart. The maker of a film as splendid as 2046 should be eager to let it go, to share his treasure with the world. Instead there's an emptiness worse than postcoital or postpartum depression. That's the secret, whispered into a hole, by a man who is 60% romantic, 40% showman and 100% movie artist. He's like Chow in 2046, watching the most amazing woman walk out of his life.
In 2046 Jingwen reads a story Chow has written about her and finds the ending too sad. Could he please change it? We are happy to do that for Wong Kar-wai. He should realize that his unhappy ending is, for others, a beguiling beginning. His vanished beloved can now find a new suitor—millions of moviegoers, who will embrace the beautiful creature, who are ready to be put in the mood for love.