Code 46 (2003)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi  |  17 September 2004 (UK)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 17,579 users   Metascore: 57/100
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A futuristic 'Brief Encounter', a love story in which the romance is doomed by genetic incompatibility.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nabil Elouahabi ...
Sarah Backhouse ...
Weather Girl
Jonathan Ibbotson ...
Sphinx Receptionist
Emil Marwa ...
Lien Nguyin ...
Singer in Nightclub
David Fahm ...
Damian Alekan


Code 46 is a love story set in a Brave New World-type near-future where cities are heavily controlled and only accessible through checkpoints. People cannot travel unless they have "papeles" (papers in Spanish; words and sentences in many languages, especially Spanish, French and Chinese are mixed with English in this new world), a special travel permit issued by the totalitarian government, the "Sphinx". Outside these cities, the desert has taken over and shanty towns are jammed with non-citizens - people without IDs forced to live primitive lives. William is a family man who works as a government investigator. When he is sent to Shanghai to solve a case of fake IDs, he meets a woman named Maria. Although he realizes she is behind the forgeries, he cannot help but fall completely in love with her. He hides her crime and they have a wild, passionate affair that can only last as long as his visa: 24 hours. Back home, William is obsessed with the memory of Maria. When the original ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In the is a dangerous game. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a scene of sexuality, including brief graphic nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 September 2004 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Código 46  »

Box Office


$7,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$20,170 (USA) (6 August 2004)


$197,148 (USA) (27 August 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Mick Jones of The Clash sings the Clash song "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" in the karaoke-esque club scene, but he appears to get the words wrong. The song goes "If I go there will be trouble. If I STAY it will be double", but he sings "If I go there will be trouble. If I GO it will be double". See more »


The numerous seeming "errors in geography" are actually an intentional artistic choice. Because the film is set in a future where global cultures have become thoroughly merged, Michael Winterbottom purposely blended footage shot in Shanghai, Dubai and Rajastahn so that Shanghai has a desert outside it, etc. See more »


[first lines]
Title Card: code 46 / article 1 / any human being who shares the same nuclear gene set as another human being is deemed to be genetically identical. the relations of one are the relations of all. / due to IVF, DI embryo splitting and cloning techniques it is necessary to prevent any accidental or deliberate genetically incestuous reproduction. / therefore: / i. all prospective parents should be genetically screened before conception. if they have 100%, 50% or 25% genetic identity, they are not...
See more »


Featured in Obtaining Cover: Inside Code 46 (2004) See more »


No Man's Land
Written by David Holmes
Published by Universal/Island Music Ltd
Performed by David Holmes
Courtesy of Polydor UK Ltd
Licensed by kind permission from the
Universal Film and TV Licensing Division
See more »

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User Reviews

Xlnt moody shots, subtle and restrained FX but poor storyline.
8 August 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

First of all I was impressed by the moody shots of Shanghai and the other locations used. Almost had that Blade Runner feel for planting you in a believable future. So many films of this genre, and with massively higher budgets, often fail to achieve the lightness of touch shown here. Not the usual obviously nailed-on FX, but instead subtle and credible gizmos with the personalised touch, like Maria's cuckoo-call tone and graphics on her personal organiser that William uses when trying to find her. And the Esperanto-style combination of phrases everyone uses, from Spanish, French, Chinese etc could easily be envisaged in years to come.

But what really let it down ultimately was the story. Just at the point where you wanted the narrative to move up a gear, instead it just hung there and became a bit self-indulgent. The actors made an excellent job of an often dull script. Maybe the writer couldn't think how to end it. A shame, as it was an opportunity squandered in my opinion.

I got the feeling that Frank Cottrell Boyce, though coming up with some thought - provoking ideas in this film and having done excellent work elsewhere, possibly needed to have collaborated with another writer that could have injected some pace and fresh perspective just at the point the film ran out of steam. I'm a great fan of Michael Winterbottom's (especially on "Jude")evocative and atmospheric camera-work, but that alone couldn't salvage the film from ultimately being disappointing.

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