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Code 46
15Code 46 (2004)

updated 14 September 2004
reviewer's rating
4 out of 5
Reviewed by Nev Pierce


Director
Michael Winterbottom
Writer
Frank Cottrell Boyce
Stars
Tim Robbins
Samantha Morton
Om Puri
Jeanne Balibar
Nabil Elouahabi
Length
93 minutes
Distributor
Verve Pictures
Cinema
17 September 2004
Country
USA
Genre
Drama
Science Fiction
Web Links
Official site



Intelligent and original, Code 46 is another engaging drama from Michael Winterbottom - probably Britain's most consistently interesting contemporary filmmaker. What it lacks in narrative heft it makes up for in ideas, with Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton falling in love in the fascistic, futuristic world our own could easily grow into. Genetics, free will, citizenship, and sex are all explored, but it's an actresses' expressive humanity that gives the final scene its lonely power.

After shooting the BAFTA-winning refugee drama In This World, Winterbottom appears acutely aware of life on the margins; the unbridgeable division between First and Third world. Here, without a papelle - a blend of passport, visa, and insurance - you are effectively a non-person: cast out of cities into the sun-scorched wasteland. But when Robbins' investigator - his powers of perception enhanced by an "empathy virus" - suspects Morton of smuggling them, he manages to see the person behind the crime. He is confused by his compassion, but class cannot deny their connection.

"MORTON IS, AS USUAL, EXCELLENT"

Why their connection is so strong is the movie's mystery, although neither the director, or writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, are much interested in wringing it for conventional thrills; choosing instead to treat the reveal in a matter-of-fact manner. Robbins is very good at making the emotionally numb interesting, and it's in these scenes he excels, registering seismic shock, then the possibility of rebellion. He's a stuffed shirt untucked by Morton's free spirit (the Nottingham actress is, as usual, excellent). Code 46 is also stunningly shot, set in a shimmering Shanghai where this chilling, all-too-convincing vision of the Earth appears bleakly beautiful.

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