Tim Robbins as William
Togo Igawa as Driver
Nabil Elouahabi as Vendor
Samantha Morton as Maria
Sarah Backhouse as Weather Girl
Jonathan Ibbotson as Boxer
Natalie Mendoza as Sphinx Receptionist
Om Puri as Backland
Emil Marwa as Mohan
Nina Fog as Wole
Bruno Lastra as Bikku
Christopher Simpson as Paul
Lien Nguyin as Singer in Nightclub
David Fahm as Damian Alekan
Jeanne Balibar as Sylvie
“Obtaining Cover: Inside Code 46” featurette
Original theatrical trailer
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 33 Minutes
The following is from the DVD cover:
“What if the person you desired most was the one person you were forbidden to love? Oscar winner Tim Robbins and Oscar nominee Samantha Morton star in this sci-fi thriller from the director of 24 Hour Party People.
In the near future, privileged classes live and work “inside” cities, while non-citizens scratch out a miserable existence “outside” in a vast desert. People cannot leave their designated zones without special visas known as “papeles.” When fraudulent papeles surface, Seattle investigator William Geld (Robbins) travels to Shanghai to ferret out the culprit and meets Maria Gonzalez (Morton) a woman with whom he has a passionate affair but breaks one of society’s harshest laws: Code 46.”
Code 46 is rated R for a scene of sexuality, including brief graphic nudity.
Code 46 has a lot going for it. It has a unique sci-fi setting. It is an interesting character drama. It has some great acting. There’s just one little problem. The core story is about a man leaving his wife and kid in order to have an affair with a woman that is his mother’s genetic clone. If you can put the whole adultery and incest angle in the back of your mind, Code 46 is a pretty good film. But that’s an awfully big hurdle to put behind you in order to enjoy the movie.
Code 46 is set at some unspecified point in the future. I like the fact that they leave the time open to speculation rather than saying it takes place in, say, 40 years. Movies never are very realistic when showing what’s possible in the future, so I like that they leave it up to the imagination. Everything’s very realistic, but there are touches here and there that tell you this is a different world. There are hints of cloning, genetic manipulation, and engineered viruses. The computers are quite advanced. The environments of the world are dramatically changed to deserts or large urban areas. Exotic locations like Shanghai and Dubai are shown to give the world a unique quality. Then the people speak a blend of English, Spanish, and Chinese. All these little cheap touches go a long way to making you believe the characters are in a realistic future world.
The acting is also quite good. Tim Robbins is excellent as William, an investigator with psychic abilities. His ability to read people’s minds is interestingly portrayed by him asking a series of questions to open their minds. He’s a nice enough guy and you like him despite the fact that what he is doing is morally and legally wrong. He makes a good match with Samantha Morton as Maria, the street smart young woman who he empathizes with. While it’s a little hard to believe that he’d be willing to break the law and become romantically involved with her, they spin it so that it makes sense when you consider his telepathic abilities. There is also a wide range of secondary characters that help flesh out the futuristic world these people live in.
But as already mentioned, the whole idea that the main character is cheating on his wife makes it very hard to cheer him on. The added twist that Maria is his mother’s clone makes it even worse. While the filmmakers were trying to go for an Oedipus angle, it just didn’t go over well in a modern story. To make matters worse their forbidden relationship culminates in an awful bondage scene where Maria’s genetic engineering causes her pain when she has sex with William, yet she makes him do so anyway. It’s a terrible and cheesy moment that ruins the entire story up to that point. The movie wants us to cheer for these forbidden lovers, but it’s a little hard to do so when the man is not only leaving his wife for the affair but the result of the relationship could be a mutant kid with three eyes.
I’m not sure who I’d recommend this film to. Fans of Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton will enjoy it. Sci-fi fans will get a kick out of the unique take on the future, but this is more of a character drama than a sci-fi film. I think if you can get past the whole Oedipus aspect of the film, you might enjoy it. But as I said, that’s a lot to get past.
Here are the highlights of the bonus features:
“Obtaining Cover: Inside Code 46” featurette This is your standard “making of” featurette with behind the scenes footage, interviews with the cast and crew, and more. They discuss a lot about how it was filmed on a low budget, how they did a lot of guerilla filmmaking on the streets, and the international locations. Too bad Samantha Morton looks hideous in a pink outfit and big blue sunglasses in this video. She and Robbins also say how terrible it is that society would put restrictions on love, but it’s hard to swallow when you consider they are talking about a kind of incest. It seems to me that if people are guaranteed to have a hideously deformed child after mating, then Code 46 doesn’t sound like that bad of a law.
Deleted scenes There are only a few deleted scenes and they are all very, very brief. They are throwaway scenes from the movie and barely worth mentioning.
The Bottom Line:
Code 46 is an interesting character drama set against a sci-fi backdrop, but the core story of a man having an affair with his mother’s genetic clone is a bit of a turn off.