Code Unknown (Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages)

Critics Consensus

Though challengingly cryptic at times, Code Unknown still manages to resonate.

74%

TOMATOMETER

Reviews Counted: 50

79%
liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,128

TOMATOMETER

N/A
All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0

AUDIENCE SCORE

79%
Average Rating: 3.7/5

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Movie Info

German-born filmmaker Michael Haneke continues the bleak, formalist experimentation of his 1994 breakthrough 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance with this similarly fragmented tale of racism, intolerance, and hatred in modern-day Paris. The focus of the narrative is split between three sets of people: the French actress Anne (Juliette Binoche), her husband and in-laws; a Romanian woman, Maria (Luminita Gheorghiu), who struggles to raise money for her family back home; and Amadou (Ona Lu Yenke), a teacher for the deaf who is at odds with his resolute African clan. The catalyst for the stories begins on a streetcorner, where Anne's brother-in-law Jean (Alexandre Hamadi) insults Maria, who is begging for change; incensed, Amadou picks a fight with Jean, resulting in negative repercussions for the triptych of protagonists. Throughout, Haneke punctuates the action with his unique editing and use of sound. After its Cannes debut, Code Inconnu made its North American premiere at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival. ~ Michael Hastings, Rovi

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Cast

Djibril Kouyaté
as The Father
Didier Flamand
as The Director
Walid Afkir
as The Young Arab
Maurice Bénichou
as The Old Arab
Marc Duret
as The Policeman
Florence Loiret-Caille
as Amadou's Friend
Andree Tainsy
as Mrs. Becker
Ada Navrot
as Florica
Giba Goncalves
as Percussion Teacher
Tsuya Bridwell
as David's Friend
Antoine Mathieu
as Restaurant Waiter
Aïssa Maïga
as Girl with Blonde Hair
Marany Pofana
as Youssouf's Sister
Costel Cascaval
as Man in the Garden
Mihai Gruia Sandu
as Group Leader
Boris Napes
as Father in Cemetery
Isabelle Pietra
as Mother in Cemetery
Ion Haiduc
as Man in Squat
Pascal Loison
as Jolly Man
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News & Interviews for Code Unknown (Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages)

Critic Reviews for Code Unknown (Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages)

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (16)

  • The violence, in short, remains unseen, but that makes it no easier to bear; what lurks and wails behind a wall is, for Haneke, the most reliable wellspring of dread.

    Aug 27, 2014 | Full Review…
  • A procession of long virtuoso takes that typically begin and end in the middle of actions or sentences, constituting not only an interactive jigsaw puzzle but a thrilling narrative experiment.

    Aug 27, 2014 | Full Review…
  • A searing, structurally ingenious look at racial tension on the streets of Paris.

    Aug 27, 2014 | Full Review…

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • This film, from Austrian director Michael Haneke, is one of the most uncompromisingly difficult and challenging of the year.

    Aug 27, 2014 | Full Review…
  • All this unrelenting bleakness would be fine if it went someplace interesting, but the film's themes never coalesce into anything beyond basic existential angst.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Full Review…

    David Rooney

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Despite the film's Bressonian rigours, its emotional force should finally give the lie to Haneke's reputation as a coldly academic film-maker.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Code Unknown (Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages)

½

An intelligent and post-structuralist narrative exercise that, shot in a series of single-take fragments, plays with the structural codes that form the basis of storytelling to reflect how people can't understand each other in this society with their very own signs (languages, gestures, cultures, moral values).

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

A strange tale, if indeed it can be called that. The subtitle, "Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys" sums it up pretty well. Juliette Binoche was lovely and carried the film. The rest was just window dressing and had no obvious connecting narrative, or meaning, beyond each individual scene. The use of jarring jump cuts from one scene to the next emphasized the discontinuity and left one somewhat bewildered as to how it all fit together. That obviously was the director's intention, but it just didn't work for this viewer. If this was supposed to spotlight the way the various characters interconnected, then it succeeded on only a most superficial level. Their lives may have intersected briefly, but one could hardly call it any more than that. Quite disappointing overall.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

Very complex intertwining stories about life in modern society. Sort of like Crash, only for Adults.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

An engrossing, cleverly constructed film from Michael Haneke (Hidden, The Piano Teacher). Since Haneke continually refuses to answer any questions regarding his films or the meaning of his themes (a word he hates), I can only offer my own opinion as to what is going on here.

Incomplete scenes showing moments in the lives of a French African teacher in a school for the deaf, a Romanian refugee, a photographer, a teenage runaway and an aspiring actress are cut together, possibly in sequential order, and intersect and connect in various, sometimes subtle ways. The film seems to be about the ways in which these characters feel alienated in society. There are breakdowns in communication because of generational differences, xenophobia, apathy, personal aspirations and more besides.

Each 'moment' finishes with an abrupt blackout, sometimes with characters in mid sentence, and the couple of seconds between two segments often feels likes a chance to absorb what is going on, or allow for a 'breather'. Aside from one ingenious segment where the question of reality comes into focus, each scene is filmed without cuts, either with the camera positioned statically or on tracks, which seems to both heighten realism whilst maintaining an artificial feel, if that's even possible.

I'm not exactly sure if the film is entirely successful and some of the scenes feel superfluous, but there's some gripping and thoughtful stuff here. Juliette Binoche is especially excellent as the actress, with one particularly stand-out scene where she rehearses for a film role direct to camera; her performance (of a performance) had me utterly gripped for the few minutes the section lasted.

Daniel Parsons
Daniel Parsons

Super Reviewer

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