Code 46 (2003)
Directed by: Michael Winterbottom | 92 minutes | drama, romance, science fiction | Actors: Tim Robbins, Samantha Morton, Om Puri, David Fahm, Jeanne Balibar, Togo Igawa, Nabil Elouhabi, Sarah Backhouse, Jonathan Ibbotson, Nathalie Jackson Mendoza, Emil Marwa, Nina Fog, Bruno Lastra, Christopher Simpson, Lien Nguyin
It is difficult to group ‘Code 46’ under a single heading. It’s a love story, but without sentimentality or a happy ending. It is also science fiction, although the emphasis is not on new technologies or futuristic designs. The world depicted in ‘Code 46’ is actually suspiciously similar to today’s world in some respects. Watching this film you can get the feeling that we may already be on our way to such an impersonal society, in which genetic defects have been eliminated and every action is recorded by cameras. To reinforce the idea of our present world in the near future, the people in ‘Code 46’ speak a kind of mishmash of many spoken languages: Spanish, English, Chinese, French, Italian and German. With the increasing globalization today, it is not surprising to assume that such a mixed language could emerge in the future.
Against the background of this apparently ideal, strictly regulated society, two people experience a forbidden love, which has far-reaching consequences for one of them in particular. They both don’t understand where the attraction between them comes from, but can’t help but give in to it. It is suggested that this has all to do with their genetic similarities. Unfortunately, the chemistry between protagonists Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton is just not such that you as a viewer can believe that William and Maria are actually so strongly attracted to each other. And that’s a shame, and also one of the weaknesses of this film.
Michael Winterbottom considers ‘Code 46’ itself a modern take on the classic film noir thriller. Winterbottom, who makes an average of one film a year, has the most diverse types of production to his name: a book adaptation (‘Jude’), a war drama (‘Welcome to Sarajevo’), a western (‘The Claim’), a hilarious portrait of a British record executive (’24 Hour Party People’), and a semi-documentary about two Afghan boys who flee to Western Europe (‘In This World’). This last film was quite controversial, because of its theme of people smuggling.
So with ‘Code 46’ Winterbottom again takes a different path. Yet there are a number of characteristics that connect his films, and those are realism and a certain rawness.
‘Code 46’ is not a masterpiece, but it does excel in cinematography. Also striking is the sublime soundtrack, which fits seamlessly with the atmosphere that the images evoke. Above all, ‘Code 46’ is a thought-provoking film and fervent hope that our future society will not actually look like this.