One charge you can't level against filmmaker Michael Winterbottom is that he's coasting on a trademark style. Good luck finding any tangible similarity between his last project, the hyperkinetic music-biz bio 24 Hour Party People, and Code 46, a sci-fi suspense drama that's as quietly regretful as People was ebullient. Set in a future where travel is dramatically restricted, the movie (previously seen as part of the 2004 Florida Film Festival) casts Tim Robbins as a telepathically endowed insurance man who's assigned to investigate the forgery of some crucial passports. In the process, he falls in love with a suspect (Samantha Morton) who may represent an illicit gateway between their culture's haves and have-nots. Like all the best science fiction, the script that Winterbottom has secured (from Frank Cottrell Boyce) parcels out the peccadilloes of its forecast society with a relaxed understatement that makes the whole thing eminently believable. (Note the delicately introduced concept that everyday discourse has become a mixed stew of languages.) Matching tone to content, Winterbottom fosters a mournful atmosphere that perfectly supports the story's musings on freedom, memory and emotional attachment. The film is like bypass surgery: clinically precise but always in control of your heart.
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