Code 46 (2003)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi  |  17 September 2004 (UK)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 17,507 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


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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?


The dialog is peppered with words from several different languages. This creates a feeling of a more amalgamated world. 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

Possibly A Scary Look At What The Government Will Be Telling You What You Can Do Next.
14 January 2005 | by (Calimesa, California) – See all my reviews

This one is billed as a love story set in the "near future". I got the idea it was more of a one night stand set in the near future, considering the main character, William (Tim Robbins), was married with a son waiting back home. William is a government investigator and the girl that he fell in love with, Maria (Samantha Morton), was the person in particular that he came out to investigate.

This movie starts in a similar fashion as I, Robot, with just a definition and the law of what exactly a Code 46 is. It's kind of the same way police codes work today whereas a 187 is a homicide, etc. A Code 46 is, in a nutshell, if two people share the same "genetic identity" (read - DNA), anywhere from 25% to 100% the same, they are not permitted to conceive a child. Any pregnancy resulting from a Code 46 must be "terminated". If the parents were ignorant of their genetic identities, then medical intervention is authorized to prevent a further occurrence of a Code 46 (this was similar to the whole plot of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind where they medically make you forget who this person is and any involvement you had with him) and last, but not least, if any two people of the same genetic identity knowingly commit a Code 46, then that is a criminal offense.

That being said, you can almost guess the entire basic story but there are other little things in the movie that almost certainly have to be watched again to catch everything. I turned on the movie before I was ready to commit my full attention to it and found myself playing catch-up the rest of the time, so make sure the film has your full attention.

The world here seems a little bit like in Demolition Man, but more realistic and less intense. You need what is called a "papelle" in order for you to enter a real city through a checkpoint and if you do not have one, you are doomed to stay outside of any major cities. In reality, this was more similar to Tijuana. They were mobbed by people selling fruits or whatever to anyone that stopped near them, etc., which was a more likely realistic future than that of Demolition Man.

Also, the language and people were more of a melting pot around the world. Just about everyone primarily spoke English, but no one said "Thank you", it was "Gracias" and other little things of that nature.

Tim Robbins style in this movie reminds me of Jeff Daniels for some reason. I think it is his voice acting, there's not much else to act with here and I really think he came out looking kind of stale. Samantha Morton looked like Sinéad O'Connor and not very attractive, but I believe her performance was a little more believable, although not great.

With all that in mind, you really have to be in the right mood to watch this. It's definitely a movie that you have to think about to understand what is happening and you can't just sit with a tub of popcorn and be entertained. Take that in consideration and decide for yourself if this is your type of movie. I honestly did not care for it, but can appreciate the little things that went on in the movie and I realize that just because it isn't for me, it is still pretty good. 7/10

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