Wednesday, November 15, 2006

DVD Review: CODE 46

My friend Ed sent me an email a few days ago, warning me off Code 46. Ed said this 2003 British science fiction movie starring Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton is sleep-inducing garbage. His email arrived too late. I’d already seen Code 46 almost a year ago via Netflix, after which I promptly bought a copy for myself.

Granted, Code 46 isn’t for everyone. It’s a quiet film with a very leisurely pace. But I find it haunting, one of those movies that clings to the back of your mind. One reviewer on calls it a “world-class ‘ambient film.’” That’s an awfully good description. You watch Code 46 like you listen to a Brian Eno album. It’s all mood. And the feelings it builds in me are intoxicating.

A quick summary: Code 46 is set in a near-future where people are only allowed to travel when they have the proper “papelles,” permits issued by the State. Outside the cities, people without papelles live primitively in desert communities. In addition, due to advancements in genetics, sex is prohibited between people who share as little as 25% matching DNA. Robbins plays a government investigator sent to Shanghai to solve a case involving faked papelles. He meets Morton, who is a prime suspect in his investigation, falls in love, has an affair, and we learn, inevitably, that their DNA matches. Robbins and Morton are Code 46 criminals.

There are problems with the story. It has holes big enough to drive a Hummer through. But Robbins is appealing. And Morton, who I’ve seen only one other time to my knowledge (in Spielberg’s Minority Report), is strangely sensuous and compelling; you understand Robbins’ obsession with her. The music and the set design are top-notch.

So there you go. Code 46 is a vital piece of my sci-fi DVD collection. I’ve watched it three or four times in the past year. I love it. But I hesitate to recommend it without caution. Do with that whatever you will.


At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Roderick T. Long said...

If you like lesiurely science fiction, check out this trailer for the forthcoming indy film Moon Europa.


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