Code 46 is one of those fillums where they mostly just use 'foreign' to mean 'future', ( The logic being that if Shanghai looks and feels a little 'Bladerunnery', why not just go there to shoot your fillum instead of building a 'Blade-Runner' type set) and in this case it works very well. Code 46 was made in 2003 and I've only heard of it now, but I think it's a cracker.
Now, the pacing's measured and is perhaps a tad more emotiony and relationshippy than one expects in the genre of dystopian motion-pictures but there's nowt wrong with that so long as it works and I reckon that, in Code 46, it does. As I said, a cracker.
In this Philip K.Dickish yarn Tim Robbins plays a cocky corporate suit-wearing wankshaft and Samantha Morton is his plainish, quirky, lonely, 'odd-as-two-left-feet-but-fascinating-with-it' love interest, and I can't tell you much more without ruining it except to say that like all good dystopian fiction, ( or science fiction for that matter ) it's really about the time in which it's made and what's wrong with the world right now.
We're not given much of an explanation for why the gloomy future it depicts is the way it is and perhaps it's a sad truth that a near-future dystopia doesn't need one. Like our own time, travel is restricted between the first world and the third world and the sort of life you can look forward to depends on which you were born into. Code 46 shows us the world we live in already, with a bit more third world and a few more travel restrictions.
One of the things I found particularly fascinating is the way that the invasive and constraining system that enforces the eponymous code is not only believable and practical, but benign in some aspects, ( the accidental breaking of the code merely involves memory erasion of the transgression and the termination of it's results ). We can see how this system is cruel, but we can also see why it's necessary, which makes it all the more 'real'.
The love story is a little strange, a little clumsy (Robbins is twice her height) and even a little cold which again made it feel more real and engaging than the standard 'hearts & flowers' Hollywood depiction.
Best of all, the dystopia takes a back-seat and works essentially to provide a context for a classic greek tragedy that tears at the guts a bit. There is still a point made of course, but is made in an impressively deft and subtle fashion and is all the stronger for that.
Maybe it's just because of where I am in my head right now*, ( or because of all the dystopias of been watching of late Code 46 is by far the most sophisticated ) but I think Code 46 is a cracker.
I say fair play to the director, Mr Winterbottom for never having let his ridiculous surname hold him back.
*If there is anybody in your life whom you miss terribly and can't see anymore, I don't know if you'd enjoy this film more or enjoy this film less because of that: but I do feel you should be warned that parts of Code 46 might sting.