2004 - R - 90 Mins.
|Director: Michael Winterbottom|
|Producer: Andrew Eaton|
|Written By: Frank Cottrell Boyce|
|Starring: Tim Robbins, Samantha Morton, Om Puri, Essie Davis, Emil Marwa |
|Review by: Joe Rickey
|Official Site: www.mgm.com/ua/code46/|
It is a highly regulated future; a time where each and every citizen is numbered and tracked through their DNA strands. The government closely monitors marriages and those who are and aren’t allowed to have children as a way of protecting against any possible genetic defects in offspring. This regulation gives the film its title, ‘Code 46.’
It's Seattle so I expect it to rain any moment now.
The outdoor environment has become rather unsafe because of ozone erosion as a result of years of careless use of various harmful chemicals and other forms of pollution. The world is further divided into bustling cityscapes which are in great contrast to the barren wastelands that surround them. The people too, have been divided, as those who are privileged enough to live in the cities are highly regarded and those who live beyond are thought of as a mere step above vagabonds. It is in this sterile environment that insurance investigator William (Tim Robbins) lives. He is a happily married man who lives and works in Seattle.
William is assigned to utilize deductive reasoning to find out what has become of specialized documents called “papelles” which are, in essence, a combination of personal identification, a passport, and a proof of insurance. He quickly focuses his investigation on the Sphinx Agency, located in Shanghai; an even more sterile city than the future-laden Seattle. Furthermore, his intuition makes him believe that a Sphinx employee by the name of Maria Gonzalez is responsible for the theft of the papelles. The problem is that after interrogating her, William finds himself strangely attracted to the woman. As they begin a forbidden affair, higher-ups in William’s place of work begin to question his skills; all the while closing in on what is really holding up William’s investigation.
‘Code 46’ is an ever-more intriguing and thought-provoking meditation on what could become of society if precautions aren’t taken to stop the spread of pollution and the subsequent depletion of the ozone layer. At the same time, the film is a heartfelt romance intermingled in a sharp-looking science fiction landscape. Director Michael Winterbottom has fashioned a future so down-to-earth to be plausible yet not so much like today’s society as to become redundant. The bright-lit vistas of both Seattle and Shanghai are visually sumptuous; garnering almost a state of awe at their striking nature.
Winterbotttom further intrigues by incorporating a believable mix of languages spoken by the inhabitants of his vision of the future. From the humble speakings of Spanish to the eloquent French dialect also included, the film mixes and matches languages not unlike people of the world today. The keen sense of what makes up a society and its underpinnings brings an extra sense of beauty and discovery to what has been created in Winterbottom’s film.
Tim Robbins brings a sense of humanity to the potentially cold persona of his William, making his scenes ring with authenticity every step of the way. As Maria, Samantha Morton (‘In America’) inhabits a character of tenderness and an acute sense of human frailty.
At times more believable than one would like to think along with being superbly directed and acted, ‘Code 46’ is an artfully constructed vision of romance in the future.