I finally finished the movie 2046.
The movie starts with Tony Leung pursuing the unattainable Zhang Ziyi.
He employs a combination of aggression and patience, to seduce her. She falls in love with him . She pleads with him to stay true to her, and he refuses. She cries. He brings another girl home. Zhang Ziyi moves out, but can't get over him.
Repeat with the seduction of Gong Li, considered for a decade the most beautiful actress in China.
Flashback to a repeat with the impossibly graceful Maggie Cheung.
My first reaction was, "WTF? Does this director not get laid enough in real life? Why is his movie living out the fantasy of seducing every famous Chinese actress?"
Then I read the wikipedia article. It claims Tony fell so hard for Maggie Cheung that everafter he looked for traces of her in other women. Seeing her traits in them drew him, but couldn't keep him, since his heart belonged still to Maggie.
That is a more generous theory.
The same director made a prequel where the main guy is a playboy who feels abandoned by his mother. He seduces two women and promptly breaks both their hearts.
I think the theme is a good one. Sometimes we're broken by events early in life, and then we keep looking for a repeat of that event so that we can re-live it and fix it this time around. Except we can't actually fix it, so it never quite works out.