I’ve recently become a fan of scores and soundtracks, and few filmmakers know how to use music to set the atmosphere and tone of a scene quite like Wong Kar Wai. Of course, Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee are damn good, but there’s something about how Wong’s music becomes more than an accompaniment to a movie but an integral part of the story and its characters that sets him apart.
Like In the Mood for Love, 2046 follows the story of pulp writer Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung) who narrates the story of his turbulent past relationships on which he bases his writing. I’ve really liked Wong’s movies because of the reality with which he portrays and unfolds relationships. Unlike in many movies, Wong’s characters are full of complexity, depth, and emotional scars, and it’s these characteristics that drive the film.
I picked these two tracks because I feel like they best defined the two main characters in 2046, Chow Mo-Wan, and Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi). Umebayashi’s “Adagio,” is a string arrangement that is full of longing and intensity, very much like Chow himself. This plays off well with “Siboney,” a rumba originally composed by Xavier Cugat, and sung by Connie Francis. Even though I've heard Francis’ Spanish pronunciation isn't too great, there is a sultriness to the song which fits with Zhang’s mistress character. So as much as I’m not into love stories, when you can pull it off as well as Wong does, and add to that a haunting score and beautiful camera work, you’ll have me hooked.
[MP3] Shigeru Umebayashi :: Adagio
[MP3] Connie Francis :: Siboney