n the dismal future imagined by the new film Code 46, people cannot travel without insurance card/passports called “papelles,” and they cannot “liaise” with anyone who shares 25% or more of their DNA. (It’s a cloning thing.) That’s the bad news. Good news is, there’s still karaoke. That and people still know how to flirt.
When William (Tim Robbins) interrogates a papelle-maker named Maria (Samantha Morton) about a forgery, he instantly knows (a) she did it, and (b) he must do her. Morton’s character — more alert, fortunately, than in Minority Report — vibes him right back, insouciant and ballsy in the knowledge that he’s totally not turning her in. Soon they’re dizzy drunk in the karaoke bar; in the very, very near future, they will have sex.
Often, characters seem to fall in lust-at-first-sight only because it says to on page 37, and the only sparks around come from the grinding of my teeth. But Code 46 perfectly captures that humming, spinning, we-are-so-hooking-up-later-but-I-don’t-want-right-now-to-end-either feeling. Maria and William don’t exchange unlikely witticisms or leaden glances; they spiral around each other in swaying counterpoint to the room, sometimes talking, sometimes just basking. The ensuing “liaising” is appropriately breathless and fuzzy, all tangled sheets and dorky boxers. Nothing stylized, no music video in the making. All told, these are the most effortlessly, naturally hot and real sex (and especially pre-sex) scenes since, well, your own memory of that one precious, perfect hookup. The plot of Code 46 eventually spins out of control (into a cuckoo triple-swirl of The Handmaid’s Tale, Oedipus Rex, and Men in Black), but at least the lovers get to do so first. — Lynn Harris
Code 46 opens August 11th.