Thursday, November 5, 2009

Code 46 (2003)

CODE 46
DIRECTED BY: MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM
WRITTEN BY: FRANK COTTRELL BOYCE
WATCHED FOR: GREAT FILMS NOBODY SAW
RECOMMENDED BY: FLETCH
OVERALL SCORE: 6.50/10


In the future a variety of genetic overlaps have forced the authoritarian to create a special code 46 rule in order to prevent people with overly similar genes from breeding. Investigator William Geld (Tim Robbins) is sent to Shanghai in order to find a factory worker who has been stealing Papelles (a Visa like form) for people in order for them to go on unapproved vacations. While William instantly finds Maria Gonzales (Samantha Morton) to be the guilty party he is oddly drawn to her. The two share a passionate night, and he decides to lie for her, but William soon finds out there are grand consequences for his actions.

When watching Code46 it's easy to tell there's a lot of heart being put into the different aspects of the story. It feels as if Boyce really wanted to get his message across, but didn't want to fall into Hollywood cliches in order to do so. He creates a world not much different visually from our current one on the outside, and lets little subtle moments draw us in to the fact that it is futuristic. Visually, if you rip out it's narrative and concentrate solely on style, I have to say Code 46 felt a lot like Lost in Translation for me. Subtle moments make up for lack of writing, characters who don't expression a lot of emotion but rather a sort of odd bleakness that draws them towards one another.

Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton play their characters exactly how they are written, and Winterbottom fills up the secondary roles with talented British TV actors of all flavors. Perhaps the most notable part of Code 46 is that it contains a lot of diversity. The actors are from all sorts of nationalities and the sort of single global environment Boyce creates really transpires well. Though this is where my complains tend to come in. At times in the story I feel Boyce is more concerned with the world than the characters, often holding off on tension to allow William to explain his "virus" (a sort of genetic skill implanted) for the 3rd or 4th time. The different political and moral issues of the world try to be reflected in our characters but at times they seem to only serve as mediums from writer to viewer.

As such I was never really brought all the way in to the main characters. We find out little of their past, and are in turn asked to connect with them, and care for them. Sure, there's a level of admirable beauty to the whirlwind romance, and silent love, but it wasn't enough to carry me into the world alone. The ending provides a sort of double nature, somber, and yet realistic, I've yet to decide how I really feel about it. There's a sort of intrinsic beauty to the film's end, but it feels incomplete somehow. So much so that I think it's one of those things that will be memorable to those who really get absorbed in this world, and yet frustrating to those who only manage with passing curiosity. Though even with all its faults, Code 46 works because it's a small film, with a rather simple premise, and good acting. It manages to be exactly what it wants to be at every moment, and in that respect I enjoyed, and admired, it.

While it contains its share of flaws, Code 46 is a fine little futuristic romance thriller with more to say than meets the eyes.

5 better thoughts:

thistimeitwillbedifferent said...

Interesting. Glad you liked this as I saw it was one of the suggestions that came up, remembered the posters from when it came out here and added it to my own rental list. Sounds like something I might like.

The Mad Hatter said...

I think you might be the first other person I've met that has seen this movie!

I watched it at TIFF back in 2003 (?), and while it faded back into the crowd of fetival-flicks-that-never-catch-on, I always dug one cool detail about it.

That diversity you mention - the thing I loved about that the most was the way the characters would flip from language to language to language mid-conversation.

I doubt this planet would ever gete to such a state, but as a person fascinated by multilingualism, I couldn't help but fall in love with the notion.

Fletch said...

Um, Hatter...read the post again, buddy! Recommended by...me! :D

The multilingualism you mentioned is probably my favorite part as well, though I seriously loved the other small touches worked into it (mostly on the technological side). The dreamlike nature of it (due to the day/night situation) is also highly appealing.

It's not a perfect film, but I love it warts and all, and admittedly probably love it more so because of its somewhat unknown nature.

Oh, and I don't think there's a single movie that's not enhanced by Morton's presence.

The Mad Hatter said...

My bad Fletch...I don't know how I missed that. Yaya! Now I know two people who have seen this movie!! I feel like the Bee Girl at the end of The Blind Melon video :)

Ah yes Morton. What's happened to her? Felt like she was in everything during the early part of the decade, and now I can't remember the last thing I saw her in.

Fletch said...

I think Morton's kept busy. For starters, I know she's co-starring in The Messenger with Harrelson and Ben Foster. Looks good.

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