Code 46 Michael Winterbottom

Code 46 Michael Winterbottom
When it was theatrically released last August, English director Michael Winterbottom's dystopian near-future follow-up to 24 Hour Party People was completely ignored. Here's hoping that this small budget, big ideas film can find some interest on home theatre systems. In this future, genetics rules the day; not only can biological responses be trigged by "viruses" that can facilitate or replace human endeavours (learn Chinese, be more empathic, play better football) but cloning experiments have become so prevalent that your genetic code becomes a definition of who you are, your social status and the privileges you enjoy. Tim Robbins stars as William, an empathic detective who tracks the trade in illegal travel documents; when he meets Samantha Morton's guilty Maria, instead of turning her in, he falls in love. Code 46 is the opposite of the highly analysed world of Steven Spielberg's Minority Report. (Morton, who stars in both, makes this point in the DVD's accompanying doc.) Winterbottom isn't interested in accurately predicting the evolution of technology — he only uses the future as a means of extrapolating thematic ideas that already haunt us now. (That biology determines status, that the state monitors every movement, the huge gap between technologically advanced haves and dustbowl dwelling have nots.) As is revealed in a brief "making of" on this DVD, Winterbottom built almost no sets — the "future world" he sought was to be found right around us, it's only a matter of context and perspective. Code 46 is a film of big ideas, sometimes too big. The effort to both create a new future and tell a classically-inspired story (literally, check the Oedipal themes) doesn't always mesh. But Michael Winterbottom never leaves you with nothing to talk about when the credits roll. Plus: deleted scenes. (United Artists/MGM)