Written by OBS Staff Member Rose
Code 46 (2003), a British futuristic science fiction flick (directed by Michael Winterbottom) unravels slowly, relying heavy on dialogue (which is sometimes hard to decipher), and leads the audience through the story of two people who meet by chance in a world with many rules, made up by ‘codes’. One such code is Code 46, a rule that states it is illegal to copulate or have a relationship such as marriage with a person that has 25% or more of same DNA as oneself. In this future existence cloning has become the norm, and to ensure that genetically incestuous reproduction does not occur, Code 46 exists.
Through a series of happening we also learn that highly populated cities are more like countries, one needs papers to travel called papelles. If you have the proper pappelles, you may travel with ease. Without such papers, you have to live outside these cities and to do so means you are an outcast and are doomed to live in poverty.
William Geld (Tim Robbins) who resides in Seattle has just arrived in Shanghai to investigate a fraud case at a company called “The Sphinx”. With the help of an empathy virus, William has an acute awareness that helps him in his inquiry. Someone at the company has been illegally smuggling pappelles out of the facility, and giving them to those who aren’t authorized. After interviewing many employees, William meet Maria Gonzalez (Samantha Morton), falls in love with her and ultimately they begin an affair with dire consequences.
The dialogue between the characters requires close attention as languages spoken shift from mostly English to well known words in Spanish, French, Arabic, Mandarin and Italian. Add in other words made-up for this authoritarian society and your ears will be doing double time for there are no subtitles.
Filmed on location Dubai, Kula Lampur, and Shanghai, these different backdrops afford the film the authenticity of a futuristic feeling without the added use of special effects.
Like any world on film that is wrought with Big Brother-esque type rules there will always be strife, sadness and unjustly consequences. Code 46 is a melodrama that does not have a happy ending. In worlds that are akin to totalitarian 1984, the crushing existence of rules leaves no room for such things. Saying anything more would ruin the few twists and turns this movie does have, so we’ll leave it at that.
For those who wants to see a sci-fi flick that is based more on character development and an actually storyline, Code 46 is a film for you.
Rating: 7/10 stars
Running time: 93 minutes