A 14-year-old video enthusiast is so caught up in film fantasy that he can no longer relate to the real world, to such an extent that he commits murder and records an on-camera confession for his parents.
A European family who plan on escaping to Australia, seem caught up in their daily routine, only troubled by minor incidents. However, behind their apparent calm and repetitive existence, they are actually planning something sinister.
Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
Jean, a farm lad, wants to escape his silent father; he runs to Paris to his older brother, Georges, who's away covering the war in Kosovo. Angry, he throws a bag of half-eaten pastry into a beggar's lap. Amadou, a young Franco-African, berates him. The police arrive, arrest Amadou and deport the beggar. Georges's girlfriend Anne is upset; it colors her relationship with Georges when he returns from the war. Separate lives intersect for the one moment, around the pastry bag, and all are altered. We follow each as repercussions of the incident play out. Deaf children bookend the film pantomiming words, feelings, and situations: what they are expressing? Written by
A film for the end of days and, seemingly, every day before
Strange. I saw within 24 hours one of the biggest frauds I've seen (the despicable 'Crash') and one of the best films, 'Code Unknown'. Both pictures examine preconception (be it racism, xenophobia, or like societal concerns) but only 'Code Unknown' allows characters to live in the rhythm and cadence of ordinary life as so many of us recognize it.
The picture concerns the being of about 7 characters, typically catching those involved at times that aren't necessarily, at least apparently, advancing to a conventional plot. Scenes often begin in their ostensible middle, characters are caught mid-sentence; this technique breathes a sense of organic freedom into the people we are watching, a technique that director Michael Haneke frequently uses to capture the reality of people as they simply exist. Here, the nature of connection is examined through the complex means of allowing the audience's preconceptions, as well as some (certainly not all) of the characters, to add meaning and gravity to what we see.
I loved this movie; seldom do I feel privileged to be able to engage in the lives of those on screen. The experience of watching 'Code Unknown' is akin to putting in earplugs and watching random people interact: after some time, the interactions of those we see become our own personal narrative, meaningful to us alone. While this film has its meaning, it also understands that the viewer's thoughts and feelings are just as relevant to the process as the film crew's. To put it another way, 'Crash' would have been a miserable failure of a movie even if I hadn't seen it. 'Code Unknown' seems to come into being as its being watched, an experience between the filmmakers and the viewers. Michael Haneke could make 10,000 more movies and it wouldn't seem enough.
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