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|Index||143 reviews in total|
'Code 46' is the most beautiful film I've seen in quite some time. It's
funny how something entirely new is produced when the properties of
film noir and futuristic sci-fi are married. Like 'Until the End of the
World,' 'Strange Days,' and 'Gattaca,' three films which 'Code 46'
potently recalls, this is above all else a mood piece, wherein
character and plot are secondary to the drifty, elegiac flow of the
The action is underplayed, and the performances have an earthy tone; Tim Robbins recalls William Hurt in 'Until the End of the World' and Bill Murray in 'Lost in Translation,' in that his perpetual jet lag has cultivated an easy, weary charm. The movie is set, one gathers, in the future (or an "alternative present," to paraphrase another reviewer). Like the best futuristic films, it's set on the same planet Earth, but the planet's simply been restructured; the old occupants have left and the new ones have moved in. No longer are there countries, only cities, only business destinations.
Pleasure is not a goal, but a side effect. The locations photographed are, as in 'Alphaville,' as in 'Sans Soleil,' not manipulated or artificial, but they are photographed in a new way. Contemporary cities look futuristic, commercial, busy, cold, with pools of dark glass and beads of light from skyscraper windows. For me, this kind of imagery is the among the most romantic and evocative. Cold, impersonal environments like these simultaneously forbid and necessitate human warmth. Intimacy becomes something to escape into.
Michael Winterbottom and his screen-writing partner Frank Cottrell Boyce have done great work before, and inevitably, a lot of viewers and critics are dismissing 'Code 46' as a number of things, including listless and convoluted, but I think that's symptomatic of approaching this film with the wrong expectations. Far beyond simply being a trivial footnote in what will hopefully be a career of formidable longevity, I think 'Code 46' is perhaps Winterbottom's best work yet, the movie I intuited Winterbottom had dormant in him. The movie has a sort of purging effect, like Wenders' 'Until the End of the World,' and as with that film, my immediate environment felt different to me, changed, upon exiting the theater.
I had the pleasure and the privilege of attending a screening of this film
recently. It had been unveiled in an incomplete state at the Venice film
festival and in a more complete state at the Rotterdam festival last year.
It has since been re-edited and was played for the first time to close the
Birmingham Screen Festival ahead of its worldwide release later in the
It is the newest collaboration between British director and writer team, Michael Winterbottom and Frank Cottrell Boyce. It stars Tim Robbins and upcoming British actress Samantha Morton (Minority Report, In America, Morvern Callar).
It is set in a near future where a worldwide law (Code 46) makes the marriage of two people with genetic similarities illegal. The idea is that many cloned embryos are produced by IVF and so there are a number of genetically identical people in the world. So the potential is there for you to meet someone who is genetically related to you, so everyone must be screened before they marry. Any births resulting from Code 46 liaisons are terminated.
The plot is almost secondary for such a great deal of the film and you can't really get a feel for what it is actually about until very close to the end, and that is what made it so refreshing for me. It was more about the feel of the places, the emotions of the two characters (Robbins and Morton) and their developing relationship. You really don't know much about this futuristic society that people are now living in, or why it came to be like that. It reminded me of Hitchcock in that he would have a plot feature that was necessary for the whole story to take place, but it was almost secondary to the story itself (Hitch called it 'the macguffin'). An example of this is the stolen diamonds in North By Northwest.
In those respects it reminded me of Lost In Translation in that it was more about some subconcious feeling you got from the film, the characters and the whole atmosphere than about plot points. It makes it confusing and you wonder whether you'll get to the end without knowing anything, but when the end comes you've found yourself having actually picked up lots of information unwittingly. And more importantly, you really feel for and love the two characters. And I really loved the fact that while the film doesn't end on a low point, it isn't the happy ending you might expect (and indeed hope) of the two characters.
The obvious references are similar films like Blade Runner and Brave New World, but while it is a futuristic setting its not doused in sci-fi overtones. It looks fresh and stylish and is the result of shooting partly on film and partly on DV and utilising numerous digital effects. The very low budget of the film also meant that they couldn't build any large sets, so instead the film is made entirely on location (Shanghai, middle east and Westminster tube station in London).
We were treated to a Q&A with one of the actors and with the producer who gave a great deal of insight into the film, and I for one left the cinema feeling very lucky to have seen it.
When its in cinemas later in the year I recommend you go and see it. I know for a certainty that a lot of people won't like it because it lacks those obvious plot points from the outset, but instead it doesn't take you by the hand to its conclusion.
One of my new favourite films I'm sure.
There are not many movies I would take time to comment on, but this is
definitely one of them. I really love the mood and atmosphere in this
film, its very soft and slow, which proves to be very effective in
escalating the sexual tension to Mount Everest levels.
The acting is superb throughout, with Samantha Morton being particularly outstanding, sexy and bizarre, a cocktail that woos Tim Robbins over and over again. Her brief graphic nudity scene was definitely an original in mainstream cinema, I'm not sure what reaction the director was hoping to get from it? but I personally feel its wasn't required, don't forget, its the things we don't see that excite us the most.
It seems that every futuristic film is compared to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, which I feel is always unfair, as Blade Runner is a classic in ever sense of the word, a true high point in the history of cinema. Code 46 does have certain parallels, forbidden love, futuristic worlds and an excellent morose tingling soundtrack, but Code 46 stands out on its own as a fantastic love story, with unique and bizarre complications and a very thought provoking look into the future.
A really good film 8/10.
Take moments of Blade Runner, the lost themes of Lost in Translation,
and the haunting images of Gattaca and mix them all into a big bowl,
your final product would look something like Code 46. Winterbottom's
vivid imagination and intelligent storytelling is proved once again as
he successfully builds another chapter into sci-fi's growing history.
His ability to take a simple story about a forbidden love and transform
it to a different time and culture was outstanding. His themes of love,
laws, and family are so dominate that he is able to handle them with
the greatest of ease and use them to even paint a bolder picture. Code
46 is an instant Winterbottom classic with the professionally superb
acting by Robbins and Morton, the cinematic eye candy of our future, as
well as a tight script that allows the viewer experience it over and
over with new references every time. Winterbottom proves that no genre
is too small for him to tackle.
To begin, look at that chemistry between Robbins and Morton. The sparks were literally flying out of my television when they were together on-screen. Their presence together fueled this film to a new level by creating a truth to their relationship. We were rooting for something that was illegal in today's society as well as this fictitious futuristic one. That is a hard concept to grasp for most audiences, but with Winterbottom behind the camera guiding this masters through the motions, it came across as nothing more than pure art. Robbins has this ability to make every character he touches into this humanistic screen element of yourself. You see yourself in this man as he struggles with the truths that surround him. He isn't just having an affair, he is in love with someone that the law will not allow. That would be hard to pull off for any actor, but Robbins seems to hit his mark with ease. Morton is no different. She has proved time and time again that she can handle the intense films, and Code 46 is yet another demonstration. She handles herself so well, giving us so much from those big eyes that seem to speak for themselves. We sympathize with her dilemma and want her to continue so that Robbins and her can meet again and again. She is a very complex character with more layers that I could count, yet we see each and every one of them in Morton's role. She holds nothing back and honestly gives 100% throughout the entire film. That is hard for any actor to do, but Morton does it with the greatest of ease. It is obvious that she will continue to be a strong cinematic force in Hollywood.
Second to the phenomenal acting, you have a brilliantly colorful future. While robots and genetics seem to be the dark horse of this civilization, it is a guiding light to see love emerge from it all. The beauty of the city only enhances this sensation even stronger. The contrast between the city and the desert looming outside shows no blurred lines. It helps us to see the symbolic references to our society and the lack of change to this new one. Winterbottom pulls no punches with his cinematography, taking ideas from Blade Runner and Gattaca, he thrives on the night and sunlight to show the horror and beauty of the surroundings. He does not color coat anything with fake CGI, but instead places you in this very realistic world that could eerily happen tomorrow (watch the current news and you will see the reference). Winterbottom does a great job of giving us both dimensions of this multi-faceted world.
Finally, I have to applaud Winterbottom for the script that he chose. Frank Boyce clearly has done his homework in both the sci-fi genre as well as the love-interest films. He successfully combines the two into this brilliant display of both modern and post-modern culture. He clearly defines the emotion of love through our characters, then throws a big shock through the system halfway into this epic. What we know, or thought we knew about his world changes instantly, but in a very calm and crisp way. He also imaginatively creates this era where languages do not divide us, but instead is required to know throughout the world. I thoroughly loved the idea that everyone knows all languages. It broke the thought that this was going to be an American film. The concept of the virus was impeccable. While not much is said about this invention, the consequences that it has on the film continually keep us on our toes. The mind-shattering voice overs coupled with the actors struggle only proves that Code 46's entire team was dedicated to the project, and sometimes that is a rarity in Hollywood.
Overall, I thought this was a welcomed change to the recycled love story syndrome that seems to plague our screens as well as a bold step in the sci-fi direction. Winterbottom continues to break new boundaries with his random choices of projects that impresses over and over and over again. For those of you that did not understand this film, I ask (wait, request) that you see it again. It cannot be enjoyed with just one viewing. Code 46 is a multi-view film that opens itself more and more to you the more often you watch it. This emotional film brought tears to my wife's eyes. Impressive and challenging! Thanks, Mr. Winterbottom!
Grade: ***** out of *****
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
I was blown away by the portrayal of a multicultural community of the
future. Languages and races all melded together into one global
culture. This film is so coy in displaying its intelligence.
Being an average linguist, I loved the usage of Spanish, arabic, mandarin and more mixed in with English. Enough to entice, little enough to avoid viewer confusion. The backdrops of the scenes looked so natural yet foreign.
I was surprised by the sensuality displayed in the latter part of the film...not being used to seeing Robbins in such scenes. the main actress carries a curious beauty and attractiveness throughout her performance.
I was slightly disturbed by the code 46 violation, but not enough to say that this was not a fascinating experience. 7/10
I loved this film! It was (to my cinematographically uncultured palate,
at least) different, and the characters seemed quite unconventional.
Rather than just hollow acting, I found Tim Robbins' character to be a
mental curve ball, which completely altered the way the film played
out. It hinted at the socialisation and culture prevalent at the time.
I also enjoyed the (much-disputed) foreign terms slipped into the conversation - they weren't too frequent, and added a dimension - that there had been purely aesthetic as well as techno/political changes. As English becomes more dominant and other languages in the minority (and therefore more culturally significant), it is likely that foreign terms will be leaked, from the age-old Caucasian tradition of borrowing culture if nothing else.
I also loved the fact that the cityscapes were all filmed to imply the future, rather than CG'd or whatever.
The storyline was innovative, and there were many dead-ends which fleshed out the story and made it less linear. Unlike some, I easily followed the storyline, and I'm rather confused that some people felt that it didn't seem to touch on Code 46 itself much.
Interesting concepts, combined with a sense of triviality surrounding much of the technology, helped to create a more textured world, and while nothing was really explained, the evidence was there for you to draw your own conclusions. If you like thinking, definitely watch this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was amazing. I thought that the depiction of the future was so realistic and subtle that it was all the more disquieting. I loved the way in which, presumably through globalization, language became a mish-mash of so many different tongues. I also found the love story to be nuanced and beautiful. There was a definite theme of mothers, daughters and sons that wove itself through the entire film - the Sphinx knows best, Tim Robbins' love interest had the genes of his mother, they had an illegal child together, they fled together to the city of her father's dreams - it goes on and on. All in all a visually stunning, subtle and disquieting masterpiece. I think Winterbottom is one of the best directors of our time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Somewhere in a corral, cornered by "Bladerunner" "Lovers of the Arctic
Circle" and "Spotless Mind" quietly prances this film in the darkness.
Winterbottom has never let me down, his understanding of cinematically defined human currents that pull is deep. His films are centered not on story or place or characters, but the urges that pull them. No, the threads at the edges of those urges. He's never let me down, I say again, because I will forget.
This is a bleak film. Oh, I should probably warn you before you look at the special features. DON'T.
This is one of those cases where you have to trust the artistry of the participants and not the blather they provide. It may be that everyone involved thought they were making a movie that warned us about big brother or some other terror around the corner. Never mind that and just take what this is as it comes. It is a haunting work, with just the most teasing hint of those edges I mentioned, placed in an otherwise sterile container. And that's the only way to see those edges: briefly, faintly in the periphery with few other distractions.
The story has all sorts of science fiction devices that you should simply accept. They aren't there for you to watch, they simply set up the extraordinary confines of the romance. Two people fall in love more or less instantly. (Each may have been exposed to some special substance that has caused this, but we see it inside the groping toward each other. We see it as genuine.) And as the story moves around the posts of its corral, each lover in turn has their memory of the love removed. Its a truly provocative and disturbing notion. There's some fighting of this, but it is incidental, a simple exhale. What makes it disturbing is how seriously and deeply our woman has given herself. He does too, but she gives everything. Everything. I'm not normally a fan of Samantha's approach to eye submission. But she is so small and vulnerable compared to Robbins and he so forward in giving.
I won't reveal the development, but it is a triple tragedy, the absolute worst that could possibly happen.
Or is it? The final scene focuses on Morton's face. There's a similar scene at the end of "Monster's Ball" where everything we have seen is supposed to be measured in Berry's face, and weighed in all its ambiguities. Berry isn't up to it and that project fails. But Morton is, bless her.
You may not long forget that gaze, the knowing, the having traveled. The probability that she would do it all again, knowing.
In a way, it recalls a similar loss and position in the remarkably obtuse and deep "Sweet and Lowdown."
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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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