But I'm not keen on dismissing it outright as there were numerous individual elements (visual, conceptual and structural) that worked for me and, I feel, will have me rewatching it when it's released on DVD:
- It's a futuristic movie, set in an alternative present governed by a unitary global force. Everyone speaks a global patois of English, Spanish, Italian, French and Mandarin Chinese. Due to the widespread practice of assisted conceptions and sperm- and egg-donated births, people from the same gene pool are forbidden to have sexual relations with one another.
- It is exquisitely shot - eery and ethereal, not edgy like usual futuristic films - around Shanghai, Dubai and Jaipur.
- Key themes revolve around alienation and dislocation, love and transgression, and the conflict between individual and global autonomy, and insiders and outsiders.
- Unusual for a sci-fi movie, Code 46 is short on special effects and plot and long on ideas and vision. It's grainy not slick, rough around the edges with an inconclusive ending, decidedly lo-fi, and the bad guys of the future are not aliens but ourselves.
- Morton and Robbins are endlessly watchable as individual characters, but not together - there's none of the oddly mismatched chemistry of Murray and Johansson in the stylistically-similar Lost in Translation.
Afterwards, we went back to eat in Asmara - a much more rewarding experience.
+ Channel 4 review of Code 46