Friday, April 15, 2016
#780: Code Unknown
Code Unknown is accurately titled. The movie is constructed out of a loose collection of scenes that wouldn't be that disconnected if it wasn't for the slow fades that separate them. The way Haneke constructs each scene requires the viewer to get his or her bearings in the first moments, unsure of who we are with, how it is connected to what has come before, and when we are with Juliet Binoche, if the scene is part of the movie or the movie within the movie. Films that are about how the world is big and diverse and we are all disconnected from each other often hit you over the head with their message - think Babel or Crash - like a person you already agree with yelling at you too close. Code Unknown takes another route, leaving the viewer feeling as detached from the movie as the characters within it are from each other.
I'm not a huge Haneke fan, though I haven't seen many of his most famous films like The Piano Teacher or Amour. I feel like in a lot of ways Cache is the more accessible version of this film, and I liked that one much better, though again it didn't really stay with me. He has obvious technical skill, but I find his work very cold and, like Lars von Trier, he often seems more interested in how his films make the viewer feel than in what is happening on screen. That's certainly okay, but I think there's a higher bar for provocative cinema, and I don't think Code Unknown clears it, not the least because I wasn't particularly provoked by what I was seeing. I was bored.