156 user 135 critic

Code 46 (2003)

1:50 | Trailer
A futuristic Brief Encounter (1945), this is a love story in which the romance is doomed by genetic incompatibility.
4 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Robbins ... William Geld
Togo Igawa ... Driver
Nabil Elouahabi ... Vendor
Samantha Morton ... Maria Gonzales
Sarah Backhouse Sarah Backhouse ... Weather Girl
Jonathan Ibbotson Jonathan Ibbotson ... Boxer
Natalie Mendoza ... Sphinx Receptionist
Om Puri ... Bahkland
Emil Marwa Emil Marwa ... Mohan
Nina Fog ... Wole
Bruno Lastra ... Bikku
Christopher Simpson ... Paul
Lien Nguyin Lien Nguyin ... Singer in Nightclub
David Fahm David Fahm ... Damian Alekan
Jeanne Balibar ... Sylvie


This movie 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 Geld (Tim Robbins) 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 Gonzales (Samantha Morton). 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: twenty-four hours. Back home, William is...

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In the future...love 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:

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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...
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Crazy Credits

There is a looped animation running next to the names during the final credits. It shows a variety of things, including chromosomes, chromosome replication, and chemical structures. See more »


Should I Stay or Should I Go
Written by Mick Jones, Joe Strummer, Topper Headon (uncredited) and Paul Simonon (uncredited)
Published by Nineden Limited Administered by Universal Music
Performed by Mick Jones
Arranged by Josh Hyams and Mark Revell
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User Reviews

Airy and charming dystopian romance
15 March 2011 | by BloodwankSee all my reviews

Code 46 is a film that puts its heart ahead of its head. Fortunately there are times when I can cherish such an endeavour so it worked for me, but I'm not the sort of viewer to tune out my head entirely so it didn't entirely work. For a plot, we have an fraud investigator in a dystopian future falling for his chief suspect. There's romance and plot developments, but the romance is key, the film is a study in wistful mood over and above its narrative. The driving force is the sparking of love in a time of such uncertainty it seems near impossible, a future of uncertain (and perhaps dangerous) genetic identities and instant personality alterations. A time in which mankind has gone so far with genetic experimentation that intrusive legislation and rigid border controls are the governments only tool to keep things under control, with Tim Robbins as or protagonist working to do just that. Now the above might give the impression of science fiction intrigues in a distant new world, but the design is modern with little visually (apart from a pretty awesome road junction) to set it apart from our world, generally conversation and some cold interior designs are what creates its sense of future. As for intrigue, well this gets us to the trouble with the film. Thematically, the potential is high, but by and large the issues are little more than brought up and laid down, if brought up at all. So no serious delving into the moral and biological consequences of events, nor the problems raised by personality alteration viruses, nor even much of a process of realisation/rebellion by our lead. What's there instead is charm, a gentle look at quiet, irresponsible burgeoning romance, deftly essayed by the leads and buttressed by sweet presentation. Tim Robbins does well in suggesting a questing soul beneath a smiling, sincerely insincere exterior, while Samantha Morton is a delight as the object of his affections. With hair cut short and a childlike naiveté she near shimmers in other-world loveliness, a truly likable turn. They have fine chemistry too, so their relationship is a fine one to ride with, much aided by the cinematography and score. Some places look suitably sterile here, but a lot of places are shot with soft, dreamhaze hues as if coming to from a medicated slumber, fitting to the plot. The music, mostly from The Free Association is wistful and shoegazey, again appropriate. The ending does however really spoil the mood established by the wordless score by employing a Coldplay song. I'm probably biased because I loathe Coldplay anyway but even taking that into account I don't think any vocals would really have suited the end of this one. I'm in danger of selling this one perhaps more than it truly deserves, but I did like it a lot. The lack of substance is a big drawback, but maintains a near constantly pleasing tone even if I wasn't thinking much about it after viewing. 7/10 from me, one for romantics methinks.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

17 September 2004 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Code 46 See more »


Box Office


$7,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$20,170, 8 August 2004

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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