Monday 26 June 2017

Movies You May Have Missed! - Gattaca (1997)

Gattaca Ethan Hawke Jude Law Uma Thurman
"There is no gene for the human spirit."
Director: Andrew Niccol
Written by: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, Uma Thurman
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Release: October 24, 1997
Origin: United States
Genre: Science Fiction

"For someone not meant for this world, I must confess, I'm suddenly having a hard time leaving it. Of course, they say every atom in our bodies was once a part of a star. Maybe I'm not leaving; maybe I'm going home."

Released in October 1997, Gattaca was written and directed by New Zealander Andrew Niccol. In what was Niccol's debut film, it received extremely positive feedback from critics. Though the film wasn't a smash at the box office, it has become somewhat of a cult classic. If you like your sci-fi intelligently written, with excellent acting and beautiful cinematography, then you'll find that watching Gattaca is as rewarding as it is intriguing.

The plot of Gattaca is set the not too distant future, where humans are judged by their biometrics to determine what kind of social class they are categorised in. Doctors are able to diagnose any genetic defects or potential issues a child will have before they're born. If a person is likely to develop a deficiency or disease at any stage of their life, they are known as "invalid". If a child is born with the aid of genetic selection, to eradicate any 'faults' within their DNA and genetic makeup, they are known as a "valid". Valid's are in the highest class of society, they get the better jobs, and are generally viewed as superior humans than those who are born as invalids. Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke), has dreamed of journeying to the stars since he was a young boy. The problem for Vincent is that he was born naturally, with the probability of developing specific genetic defects in his lifetime thus rendering him as an invalid.

Specifically, Vincent wants to be part of the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation, and travel to Titan. Every time he has an interview with the company he is turned away. Just a simple blood or urine test is enough for them to find out that he's invalid and unsuitable to be trained as an astronaut. While working as a cleaner at Gattaca, Vincent learns that there is a way to fake blood and urine tests, but he will have to change his identity and meet a valid that is willing to give him their identity.

Gattaca Ethan Hawke

Enter Jerome Morrow (Jude Law). A "perfect genetic specimen" who has been rendered paralysed after a car accident several years prior. He agrees to help vincent by letting him have his identity, and by providing essentials such as blood, and urine so Vicent can pass the frequent scanning and DNA testing at Gattaca. Vincent also has to alter his appearance during a painful procedure, and soon becomes the spitting image of Jerome.

After being hired by Gattaca, Vincent is vigilant throughout his training and performs at an exceptional level until one of the high-ranking administrators is brutally murdered. As the police sweep the crime scene, one of Vincent's eyelashes is found, and the hunt for an invalid imposter begins meaning Vincent's secret is in danger of being revealed.

So what makes this film so good?

Gattaca highlights several controversial subjects and raises interesting questions about genetic engineering, and what lengths a man will go to so he can achieve his dream. The universe of Gattaca is such that discrimination still exists but is no longer determined by details such as skin colour, or gender. Your DNA determines what you can do in the eyes of society. It's an exciting concept and one that could very well come true in the future.

Ethan Hawke's portrayal as Vincent is brilliant, especially how he manages to radiate his character's desperation to travel to the stars. Jude Law also does an excellent job as Jerome, a self-destructing alcoholic who has all but given up on life after struggling to come to terms with his accident. Uma Thurman also puts in a solid performance as Irene Cassini, a co-worker of Vincent and eventual love interest.

The two lead performances are superb, but the plaudits must be given to director Niccol. If it weren't for his smart script that raises so many thought-provoking questions, then I certainly wouldn't still be thinking about the film days after watching it.

Should humans be messing with genetics? What are the repercussions of altering nature?

These two questions are only a snippet of what Gattaca asks you. And with the film being made nearly 20 years ago, the questions asked then are more relevant now than ever before.