On a busy Paris boulevard, a youth scornfully tosses a crumpled paper bag into the outstretched hands of a beggar woman. This is the bond which, for an instant, links several very different characters: Anne (Binoche), an actress; her war photographer boyfriend Georges; his farmer father and younger brother Jean, who, contrary to his father’s wishes, has no interest in inheriting the farm; Amandou, a music teacher for deaf-mute children, and his family, who originate from Africa; and Maria a Romanian immigrant.
Written and directed by Michael Haneke, one of modern cinema’s most distinctive and ambitious directors, CODE UNKNOWN is a complex film of powerful emotional force and a fascinating study of the subtle connections and barriers between people, social class, race, and the difficulty of communicating in the modern world.
Cheerfully wishing his audience a “disturbing evening” at a London retrospective of his films, director Michael Haneke insists that he is an optimist at heart, despite all of the relentlessly bleak carnage and deeply disturbing imagery so vividly painted and seared into the mind of anyone who has had the uncomfortable experience of viewing his work.
Practically born into show business, to an actress mother and director father, in Munich in March 1942, Haneke spent his early years in a working class suburb of Vienna before an early attempt at fame as an actor and pianist. Failing to achieve early success, Haneke attended the University of Vienna to study philosophy and psychology, and became a film critic and stage director before making his eventual debut as a television director with After Liverpool in 1973. Setting in motion a television career specializing in literary adaptations and small screen films, Haneke would work successfully in that medium until his feature debut… read more
A variation, or a fragmentation, of the aesthetic conceit of Hitchcock’s Rope, turning the technical schematic into a narrative one. As a result, Code Unknown easily carries tension and claustrophobia, along with a more noticeable grace and precision in its framing - even if its social strata now seem somewhat commonplace, its provocation appears more patently emotive than unsettling, and its ephemera stay discursive to the point of anticlimax.
Code Inconnu, like all works of cinematic art, is made up of one brilliant scene after another, but more importantly it entreats us to reflect, as well as interpret. It also invites us into conversation about it, even asks us to return and discover again....
A critique of montage. Continuity editing or even radical formalist techniques cannot bring us closer to the truth for the sheer fact that absolute truth in itself does not exist. Reality doesn't manifest itself in meaning or coherency, but only in impressions.