Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys (Haneke, 2000)


“La Binoche.”  That is what the French refer to the country’s highest paid and beloved actress, Juliette Binoche, and she is the center of this interesting film.  The film opens with a collision of the central characters, in a Paris street,  surrounding a simple yet pathetic act by a boy, understood at first to be the son of Marie (Binoche).  Upon finishing a pastry he throws an empty paper wrapper on a homeless, immigrant woman.  What ensues is a series of jump cut flash forward and flash backward scenes that are wonderfully confusing but not necessary to understand even if you are overly interested in linearity.  After seeing Haneke’s brilliant Cache’ (2005) and his entertaining American version of Funny Games (2007) I didn’t know what to expect.  This is certainly more humanist than the latter.

There is interest in watching characters doing mundane things like pressing clothes, having a silent and sad dinner of just baked beets, working on camera equipment, family conversations not part of any story arc whatsoever and a touching scene involving the homeless, immigrant woman distraught and crying about her inability to find work.  Haneke throws in an a terrifying scene early that left me wondering if the narrative would end in a frightening place.  I won’t spoil here.

Anne plays an actress in the film (of course) and there are scenes that the viewer is shown that are a film within a film and others where it is left to your imagination.  In any event its the best acting I can recall during a film within a film.  Definitely worth a watch.  On Netflix streaming.

****  / *****

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