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Code Unknown

Juliette Binoche , Thierry Neuvic , Michael Haneke    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 39.98
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Product Description

On a bustling Paris streetcorner, four separate lives intersect, setting into motion a stunning film by acclaimed filmmaker Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher, Funny Games), which has been called "the most intellectually stimulating and emotionally provocative piece of European cinema of recent times." Carefully interweaving the stories of Anne, a promising actress (Juliette Binoche), her photojournalist boyfriend Georges (Thierry Neuvic), a young teacher of African descent (Ona Lu Yenke) and a Romanian illegal immigrant (Luminita Gheorghiu), Haneke crafts a compelling portrait of life in a fractured, lonely world. As these divergent stories gradually unfold, the seemingly unrelated lives prove to have very much in common, as they struggle for love and acceptance in society of locked doors and cold stares.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Code: Unconventional May 24 2004
Michael Haneke is either mad or a genius. That's the feeling that comes after watching "Code Unknown," a strangely compelling -- and very unconventionally-shot -- movie about people who lack a place to live in peace. The performances are realistic, the direction strangely minimalist -- and the feel is confusing and vivid.
The movie follows the lives of many people living in France -- an immigrant taxi driver who returns to his homeland. A Romanian woman who faces deportation. A young boy fleeing life on a farm. An Arab heckles people on a subway. A young black man who can't understand why people are so disrespectful to a woman on the street. And a young actress who simply seems to be struggling with her boyfriend. These people bump into one another, and their lives brush for brief instants that change everything.
"Code: Unknown" is not an easy film to get into. Its fragmented story is made up of dozens of little scenes, which are sometimes cut off in mid-sentence. What's more, there are certain scenes (like Binoche and an old lady walking through a cemetary, or a boy riding his bike away from a farm) that may seem dull at first glance.
Certainly Haneke's filmmaking is unique. There is no soundtrack at all; in some scenes, all you can hear are cars and footsteps. Each scene is filmed in one long continuous take, which adds to the ultra-realistic feel of the film -- it's unadorned, lacking in drama, gritty and sometimes a bit tedious, like real life. And Haneke's directorial skill is at its best when communicating how alienated and alone these people are -- for example, Binoche on a stage, speaking wistfully to a nonexistant audience.
The acting ranges from silly to superb.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The deciphering of human enigmatic behavior... May 22 2004
Code Unknown begins with a scene where a a large group of hearing-impaired students are playing charades by acting out emotional behaviors. As the audience observes the scene it becomes clear that the students cannot decode the acted out emotional behavior. The story is in regards to the human inability to understand or read these behavioral cues as they are presented in society and Haneke embodies these cues through a number of "incomplete tales of several journeys". These "incomplete tales" consist of a large number of scenes that begin in the middle and end before the end, which suggests that the ultimate beginning or ending does not really exist since all interactions are linked to the consequences and are deciphered by each individual. Clever directing fuses these scenes together with distinct fade outs that seems to lead haphazardly to a different character's tale, yet within the disorder Haneke creates a neat methodology that presents several intriguing tales. These tales deal with several social and political issues such as racism, love, attitude, poverty, and much more. Code Unknown displays the possibilities of great cinema as Haneke deliberately forces the audience into contemplative action through his creative scene constructions and challenging cinematography. In addition, the cast performs brilliantly, one example is a close-up shot of the character Anne Laurent (Juliette Binoche) as she is preparing for a film role where she is going to die. This shot is modern film history as it personifies fear with cinematic brilliance. In the end, Code Unknown is cinematic art that leaves the audience with an enigmatic riddle of human behavior which is left for the audience to decipher as the story suggests.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Incomprehensible yet daringly experimental Feb. 23 2004
By A Customer
From its start, Code Unknown promises to tell "incomplete" stories of French life and more than lives up to its preface. This film is so choppily edited, poorly paced, and confusing that the stories evolve from incomplete to incomprehensible and infuriating. This isn't a movie about characters or plot, so it's moot to describe what little the film has of either. This is a film about mood- the mood of a persisting, even shocking disconnect and sadness in the world. There are plenty of moments of pristine beauty to supply such a mood. For instance, the opening tracking shot is breathless and subtly horrifying, as we watch racism and cruelty transpire with utter naturalism. This scene is the most vivid and evocative in the whole film- and holds a certain precedent that the film can never live up to, though Haneke continually gives us similarly fascinating, unconventionally disturbing images to absorb. For instance, a brilliant fight in a grocery is accentuated by characters angrily shoving food items in a shopping cart to punctuate their rage. I don't quite know what it means but it's fascinating to watch. And Haneke fully captures the luminosity of Juliette Binoche so that every time she appears onscreen, we feel connected. We wait for such scenes- and Binoche's appearance to jumpstart our pulse in between the unengaging filler- much of which doesn't make sense- logically, emotionally, or stylistically. The more I place it within the context of Michael Haneke's work (Funny Games and The Piano Teacher; the latter's depiction of bizarre psychosexuality seems positively mainstream compared to this) the more I believe the incomprehensibility is intentional. And surely, this movie deserves repeated viewings. Its initial effect, though maddening to a large degree, is undeniably intriguing.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for Godot without the Leaves
I was really excited at viewing another film by Haneke, but it was a sheer flop. It is a very good movie for individuals who want to study cinema and the abstract; however, it is... Read more
Published on May 3 2011 by M. Mckeown
1.0 out of 5 stars Point Unknown
I'll keep this brief, as I feel like I've already wasted too much time on this movie as is. Turgid, pretentious, and relentlessly grim. Read more
Published on March 8 2004 by M. Lepera
4.0 out of 5 stars Life Interupted......
This review refers to the Kino Video DVD(2002)edition of "Code Unknown...Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys".... Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2003 by L. Shirley
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thought Provoking Masterpiece
If ever the phrase "don't judge a book (insert DVD) by its COVER" had any meaning, it would apply to this film. Read more
Published on May 29 2003 by Richard L Howell
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant shot of European Life
It is rare when watching a film, to see reality realistically depicted. Code Unknown is one of those rarities. Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Key Word Unknown
This vague yet engaging film combines several different stories at once,fading from one persons
life to anouther,without,what it seems,any real structure. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2002 by 24fps
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious, ponderous and empty
Despite the number of good reviews (some fervent) this film has received, I'm afraid the emperor has no clothes. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2002
1.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful film - A 100% AWFUL DVD!!!
This is wonderful, innovative film that combines multiple story lines and characters in a method that seems jarring but that has a finer interrelation of lives in mind than the... Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2002 by APC Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Haneke is the "MASTER"
Usually after a movie either in the theater or at home, people tend to discuss it right away with each other. I have even noticed this while the credits are rolling. Read more
Published on Aug. 17 2002 by Michael C
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