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:: Code 46

Yes, it’s one of those future cum romance cum film noir flicks again. You know the ones. This time main man Tim Robbins plays William, an investigator out to check out a fake passport racket in Shanghai. Well, they’re not actually passports - that’d be much too 2005 - instead they’re papers called papelles, and anyone wanting to travel any distance at all in the future needs to get their mitts on them. So William sniffs around a little, uses his magical future-tech mind reading power, and works out that chirpy little Maria (Samantha Morton) is the crim he’s been sent to catch. The movie would’ve finished up there if the boyish Maria didn’t make William get all excited. But you know guys…

Cut to some rushed, untenable “night together on the town” where the two realise they’re in love and indulge in a one-night smattering of “how’s your father?” (Did we mention William is a happily married man with a son?) We didn’t buy it either. Further unhinged storytelling follows when William discovers that Maria got knocked up during their illicit encounter. Then he has to track her down in some hospital in the desert. Then it turns out she’s a clone of William’s mother… or something (making William a genuine mofo). Then… yadda, yadda, yadda.

The story is as together as an Irishman at a wake. The dead pan set up doesn’t allow us to empathise with the characters, and the film quickly falls away afterwards. There’s also a real lack of dynamic in the narrative, meaning Robbins never has cause to wake up from his usual dreary shuffle and Morton’s Maria remains distant after her ball-and-chain start.

However, if you find intercourse hilarious (and don’t we all?), it might be worthwhile holding out for the final sex scene. Apart from starring a shaved camel toe and lots of moaning facial close ups, it’s a languid attempt at erotica that’s laugh-out-loud funny.

Not all is lost, though. Winterbottom’s transcendental touches and sensitive coverage (which alternate between bleak film and grainy tape) combine with Peter Christelis’s editing and David Holmes’s music to morph the film’s visions of urbanity into the eerily mystic. The director’s conceptualisation of the future, dominated by images of economic dualism instead of Jetson gadgetry, is a welcome change, too - and it’s done well. Too bad about the story.