Movie #74 Code 46
(2003, UK, d. Michael Winterbottom)
“If everybody’s children are so special, it makes you wonder where all the ordinary grows ups come from”, says Maria (played by Samantha Morton) in a very prophetic and self-reflexive line early in the film. Code 46 starts off with a lot of promise. It creates a fascinating futuristic world, void of all the technological hazards and pitfalls most sci-fi movies tend to fall in, and a strong set-up, but then it grows up and forgets the most important thing about itself: the characters and their relationships with each other. The hardest part about watching Code 46 is not understanding or being able to sympathize with the main characters, whose actions are sometimes so befuddled and confused and all over the place that one can doubt whether or not they themselves know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. I still have a dozen questions. Why did William choose to have an affair? Why did he continue a relationship with someone who turned out to be a clone of his own mother? Why did he willingly put himself at risk of arrest at the end? Why did he not just do his job? Why does an “empathy” virus give him the power to read people’s minds? I felt a lot of the decisions of the movie made the film into more of an art-house piece, and though I have nothing against that, it did take away from some questions that, no matter how artsy it is to leave up to audience, should at least be acknowledged. Secondly, it’s hard to create a futuristic world and place a ton of rules on it without having the audience feel a little cheated when new rules are mentioned just to add a conflict or move the plot forward. It’s also sad, though, to see a world that was obviously created with a lot of thought and deliberation by the filmmakers – everything from the melting pot visuals to the pidgin language to the politics and geography of futuristic Shanghai. The cinematography and set design have to be mentioned in the same breath, since both were wonderful enhancements to the picture. But what was the movie about, really? The government? Love beyond borders or even genetics? The most important thing thing, one must always realize, is connection to the characters. The rest is commentary. This felt like a Danny Boyle movie gone wrong.