This movie is gripping and fascinating from the first minute until the last frame. It was flawlessly acted and executed. The photography is appropriate for the mood it intends to convey and the story, as well as the characters, have debt and dimension. I dont understand the overall low rating of this movie as unlike a lot of the garbage the US has been making in the sci-fi, futuristic department lately, this movie from the UK was fabulous – from plausibility to originality of story telling.
It is about a future in which genetic engineering and such things as IVF and cloning are common place; It is a future where genetic profiling is also common-place and where couples can submit their genes and have it analyzed within minutes for compatibility. Because IVF and cloning are so commonplace, there exist certain “quality control” laws to prevent reproduction between two individuals that are genetically too close. This is “Code 46”.
That’s the backdrop to the real plot here which is a love story between two people. William (Tim Robbins) is in Shanghai to investigate a case and he meets Maria (Samantha Morton) whom he falls for and spends a passionate night with. He leaves the next day as he has a wife and a child in Seattle. He cannot forget about Maria, however, and seeks her out the next time he is back in Shanghai. She has disappeared, however. Turns out, she has violated Code 46 and was taken away to be “taken care of”. When having her DNA analyzed, he finds out that he “must not liaison with her” as their DNA is 50% identical and her DNA is 100% identical to that of his mother’s.
I dont want to reveal too much about what happens at this point but it is sort of like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. William and Maria fall in love again; a bad decision in a time and place where they are not supposed to be together by law.
Like I said, I dont get all these negative reviews, undoubtedly by some religious nut jobs, calling this movie filthy or about incest. That is nonsense and far from it. These people are not committing incest in what we understand as incest. The truth is that they live in a future where cloning and IVF are commonplace requiring checks and certain measures to prevent genetic defects. William and Maria dont know each other. They never met. But they fall in love and are unfortunate in that they live in a society where cloning has become so common that 5 out of 10 people they meet on the street could be related to them. It is not their fault nor is it to their knowledge that they are related. And even after William finds out – well, since he has never met this woman and she is not his mother, only genetically identical to her, he doesnt feel like it is wrong or like he is sleeping with his mom.
In short, this movie is fantastic. It draws you in – especially the parts that take you into a future that is not too far off from where we are today and yet so fantastic and far away. Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton do an amazing job portraying the melancholy of their characters as well as how trapped they really are in identities that were created for them since birth.