It usually takes only one viewing of a movie to decide on whether one likes it or not but once in a while, you get a film that leaves you completely confused after that first look. CODE 46 was one of those movies for me. With one breath I was spewing venom at it and with the following, extolling its greatness. In the end, the truth was somewhere down the middle. The concept itself was a great idea. It reminded me somewhat of a futuristic LOST IN TRANSLATION not necessarily because of the Asian location (set in Shanghai) but because it emanated the same feeling of loneliness for two people within a monstrous crowd and focused on a brief yet passionate relationship between people with no prior knowledge of each other.
In the same way, it was also visually breathtaking. Beautiful shots help remind the viewer of the strangeness of the environment and of the future, unfamiliar landscape. At times it became overwhelming, I felt I was watching an hour and a half long music video and I can’t suggested to anyone who’s ever had a brush with epilepsy but it was definitely pretty to look at. I’m not a huge fan of either Tim Robbins or Samantha Morton either but they were both picked perfectly for their respective roles although neither stepped too far out of their range, especially Robbins who stuck to the straight man routine for most of his screen time. There were very few others who actually appeared in the movie and those who did were in it for very brief periods but they were all quite effective. In a nutshell, the positives of CODE 46 can be described in one word: balls. You have to credit writer Frank Cottrell Boyce and director Michael Winterbottom for going out on a limb and giving us a fresh story that had its flaws but at least tried things out. Not to spoil anything but I thought I could see the ending come from a mile away and turned out to be very wrong.
On the flip side however, despite enjoying the idea of the narrative given by Morton’s character throughout the film, there was something off about the way it was applied. It was interesting most of the time but on the few occasions where it lapsed below standard, it became frustratingly noticeable and overly pretentious. At some point I was left shaking my head thinking “what the hell is she talking about?” The movie was also extremely slow-paced which was useful at times in emphasizing the all-encompassing discomfort of the characters’ positions but which also bogged things down once in a while. The movie was still short but there’s nothing wrong with making it even shorter if you can effectively wrap up the story cleanly. I’ll give an overall nod to CODE 46 but only after I gave it a second chance that let me appreciate the physical beauty of the film despite a slow, slow tempo.
There’s very little to speak of here save for Obtaining Cover: Inside Code 46, a 16-minute long, much better than usual making of featurette, four insignificant Deleted Scenes (one of them is literally a ten second clip of Robbins and Morton running and the film’s Original Theatrical Trailer which makes it seem like a crazy sci-fi/action flick.