Code 46

May 7th, 2004


more trailers Code 46

Still of Tim Robbins in Code 46Still of Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton in Code 46Tim Robbins at event of Code 46Samantha Morton and Michael Winterbottom at event of Code 46Samantha Morton at event of Code 46Tim Robbins at event of Code 46

A futuristic 'Brief Encounter', a love story in which the romance is doomed by genetic incompatibility.

Release Year: 2003

Rating: 6.2/10 (12,175 voted)

Critic's Score: 57/100

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Stars: Tim Robbins, Samantha Morton, Om Puri

Code 46 is a love story set in a Brave New World-type near-future where cities are heavily controlled and only accessible through checkpoints. People cannot travel unless they have "papeles" (papers in Spanish; words and sentences in many languages, especially Spanish, French and Chinese are mixed with English in this new world), a special travel permit issued by the totalitarian government, the "Sphinx". Outside these cities, the desert has taken over and shanty towns are jammed with non-citizens - people without IDs forced to live primitive lives. William is a family man who works as a government investigator. When he is sent to Shanghai to solve a case of fake IDs, he meets a woman named Maria. Although he realizes she is behind the forgeries, he cannot help but fall completely in love with her. He hides her crime and they have a wild, passionate affair that can only last as long as his visa: 24 hours...

Tim Robbins - William Geld
Togo Igawa - Driver
Nabil Elouahabi - Vendor
Samantha Morton - Maria Gonzales
Sarah Backhouse - Weather Girl
Jonathan Ibbotson - Boxer
Natalie Mendoza - Sphinx Receptionist
Om Puri - Bahkland
Emil Marwa - Mohan
Nina Fog - Wole
Bruno Lastra - Bikku
Christopher Simpson - Paul
Lien Nguyin - Singer in Nightclub
David Fahm - Damian Alekan
Jeanne Balibar - Sylvie

Taglines: Can a single moment ever disappear completely?


Official Website: Manga Films [Spain] | Official site [United States] |

Release Date: 7 May 2004

Filming Locations: Blackwall Tunnel, London, England, UK

Box Office Details

Budget: $7,500,000(estimated)

Opening Weekend: €96,471 (Italy) (9 May 2004) (82 Screens)

Gross: $197,148 (USA) (29 August 2004)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Mick Jones of The Clash sings the Clash song "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" in the karaoke-esque club scene, but he appears to get the words wrong. The song goes "If I go there will be trouble. If I STAY it will be double", but he sings "If I go there will be trouble. If I GO it will be double".

Factual errors: Cut hairs without skin tags, which do not contain DNA, are used for a DNA analysis.

[first lines]
Maria: I think about the day we met. I suppose you arrived par avion. Maybe you were the first to get to security. You didn't intend to stay. You only had 24-hour cover, so luggage was a mano. And they probably had a driver waiting, so you didn't need to find un coche. You'd never been to Shanghai before. It was all new to you.

User Review

Warmth in a Cold World


'Code 46' is the most beautiful film I've seen in quite some time. It's funny how something entirely new is produced when the properties of film noir and futuristic sci-fi are married. Like 'Until the End of the World,' 'Strange Days,' and 'Gattaca,' three films which 'Code 46' potently recalls, this is above all else a mood piece, wherein character and plot are secondary to the drifty, elegiac flow of the film.

The action is underplayed, and the performances have an earthy tone; Tim Robbins recalls William Hurt in 'Until the End of the World' and Bill Murray in 'Lost in Translation,' in that his perpetual jet lag has cultivated an easy, weary charm. The movie is set, one gathers, in the future (or an "alternative present," to paraphrase another reviewer). Like the best futuristic films, it's set on the same planet Earth, but the planet's simply been restructured; the old occupants have left and the new ones have moved in. No longer are there countries, only cities, only business destinations.

Pleasure is not a goal, but a side effect. The locations photographed are, as in 'Alphaville,' as in 'Sans Soleil,' not manipulated or artificial, but they are photographed in a new way. Contemporary cities look futuristic, commercial, busy, cold, with pools of dark glass and beads of light from skyscraper windows. For me, this kind of imagery is the among the most romantic and evocative. Cold, impersonal environments like these simultaneously forbid and necessitate human warmth. Intimacy becomes something to escape into.

Michael Winterbottom and his screen-writing partner Frank Cottrell Boyce have done great work before, and inevitably, a lot of viewers and critics are dismissing 'Code 46' as a number of things, including listless and convoluted, but I think that's symptomatic of approaching this film with the wrong expectations. Far beyond simply being a trivial footnote in what will hopefully be a career of formidable longevity, I think 'Code 46' is perhaps Winterbottom's best work yet, the movie I intuited Winterbottom had dormant in him. The movie has a sort of purging effect, like Wenders' 'Until the End of the World,' and as with that film, my immediate environment felt different to me, changed, upon exiting the theater.