Movie Poster
Code 46
Michael Winterbottom
Tim Robbins, Samantha Morton, Jeanne Balibar, Om Puri, Essie Davis
83 min.


In the future, Tim Robbins can read your mind. He's an investigator, discovering criminals by examining their thoughts. "Tell me anything about yourself," he repeats. He drives through a world composed of desert and blacktop, escalators and neon. He finds that Samantha Morton is forging passport documents for people to whom they've been denied. Impulsively, he fingers someone else. They are in love. They cross the titular piece of legislation. They escape to the Outside. They are outside society. But society remains within them. Little pieces of it, anyway. There really aren't any bad guys. Nobody is against them, they are caught in the situation.

The plot remains of only tertiary interest. The accomplishment of the movie is the creation of a thoroughly convincing world: Of a near future, just like the present, only more so. Like Alphaville, Code 46 uses real-life present-day locations to extrapolate an image of a society that appears like a giant, beautiful ATM.

Winterbottom, who directed 24 Hour Party People, keeps the procedings very stylish, but not polished. There's a grainy materiality to much of the footage which makes it all the more beautiful. Eschewing the push toward representing reality, it edges closer to being something real itself.

Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton don't really seem to be acting, they interact with their surroundings as though they lived there. And that they give good performances doesn't matter as much as their presence in and belonging to this place. Tim Robbins drives down these highways as though that's all he's ever done. It's all he can do. And Samantha Morton: Honest to god, I've seen buttons that were less cute; she's always there, either as a destination or a departure. Every point in the world of the film is defined by its relation to her.

We haven't had a science fiction movie this good in some time. And Mick Jones' cameo stands as the best joke of recent memory.

You make your own destiny, but given enough information I can determine which destiny you will make.

Pat Jackson