Code Unknown (Michael Haneke – 2000) A

A fragmented film set in Paris, mostly. An incident brings several characters to an intersection. It’s not a major incident by any means but it is the spark that propels us as the viewers to start looking into these people’s lives. The threads of the various stories are divided by black screen for a second or two and each one is mostly a long take making us feel more and more as voyeurs. Haneke is really a master with the camera and he resorts to various tricks from tracking to static shots of various lengths.

We follow a woman from Eastern Europe as she gets deported but then leaves her family yet again to illegally enter France and beg in the streets of Paris. We check in on the trials and tribulations of an African immigrant family and take a detour to listen in on their young son and his girlfriend. We have the French actress, her boyfriend, his brother and dad and the various movie within the movie takes where Haneke loves to play with our perspective. Beyond the sheer competent film making that is beautiful to watch there is a touching and relevant commentary here about the various classes of modern French society. I have not seen too many Haneke films but I will be making it a point to check more of them out soon enough.

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