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.