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Gattaca (1997)

September. 07,1997
| Thriller Science Fiction Mystery Romance
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In a future society in the era of indefinite eugenics, humans are set on a life course depending on their DNA. Young Vincent Freeman is born with a condition that would prevent him from space travel, yet is determined to infiltrate the GATTACA space program.


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Sorry, this movie sucks


From my favorite movies..


I like movies that are aware of what they are selling... without [any] greater aspirations than to make people laugh and that's it.


The tone of this movie is interesting -- the stakes are both dramatic and high, but it's balanced with a lot of fun, tongue and cheek dialogue.


I wanted to like this movie as it began because the concept appeared to be rather interesting. But as the film progressed, it seemed like one had to take more and more things for granted that defied common sense. The biggest one was the most obvious; even with Jerome Morrow's (Jude Law) insistence that no one would recognize Vincent Freeman's (Ethan Hawke) attempted impersonation, I couldn't think of anything else throughout the movie. They really DID NOT look like each other. How difficult was that for anyone to figure out?Then there was the business with the eyelash. How about trying this little experiment. Take one of your own eyelashes and randomly set it down somewhere in your home or room. Do you think you'd ever find it again? In the picture, that eyelash looked almost huge sitting there on that ledge. And how would it have gotten there? Seriously, consider the logistics required for that to happen.Then there's something that's a bit more subtle but still thought provoking. The real Jerome Morrow explained that his 'accident', getting hit by an automobile, was done on purpose. But why? As one of the elite of society, what motivation would he have had to harm himself in such a manner? Surely placing second in a swimming meet and winning a silver shouldn't have been that traumatic. Perhaps he took it to heart that a second place finish was equated to being 'first loser'. Out of everything in the movie, that made about the least amount of sense to me. What I did enjoy were the clever bits of misdirection with the tampering of DNA evidence so that Vincent could pass some of the testing requirements. But as far as being likeable, I don't think any of the principal characters succeeded on that score, and what could have passed for an ironic Twilight Zone type of ending never materialized. And if pressed to give an answer, what was so appealing about flying off to the fourteenth moon of Saturn anyway?


Gattaca is a film about a man who chooses to reject societal expectations and believe his fate to be predetermined. In the future where mankind has the ability to eliminate unwanted genetic traits, Ethan Hawk plays Vincent, a man without genetic modification. As a result, he is part of a quickly shrinking portion of the population whose genetic predispositions are left up to chance instead of determined. This group of people are now discriminated against and looked down upon.Vincent's parents are told he has a 99% chance to develop heart failure and die by age 30. They decide to have a second child, Antoine, who is genetically modified to have every advantage possible. Despite growing up in a world where Vincent is told he cannot and will not be anything, he strives for greatness. His dream is to be an astronaut for Gattaca. A company who sends out crews to all planets in the solar system. Unfortunately for Vincent, Gattaca, like many other employers, only take the most perfected genetic applicants no matter their skills or qualifications. To achieve his dream, Vincent assumes the identity of Jerome, played by Jude Law. Jerome is nearly genetically perfect. The film then unfolds as Vincent desperately tries to remain hidden as circumstances arise at Gattaca that starts an investigation that threatens to uncover Vincent's true identity. Motifs central to the theme are prejudice, ability, and expectations. Through narration by Vincent about his life before assuming the role of Jerome, we get a picture that while genetic discriminated is technically outlawed, the legality of it is ignored. Gattaca uses the excuse of security to blood test every employee as they access the building in order to verify genetic superiority. Throughout the film Vincent recalls beating his brother in a swimming contest as they were younger. He remarks that Antoine couldn't accept that his genetically inferior brother was able to beat him. These scenes play a commentary about expectations. Antoine, and everyone in his life, expected his to exceed at everything. Any failure he did experience he has no excuse for.Finally, we see Vincent excel in his studies and work ability. By doing so we get the understanding that Vincent is every bit as capable as his genuine colleagues. Showing us the injustice of the discrimination on the basis of genes.The film's commentary that it is our imperfections, our humanity, that makes us great reminds me of another sci-fi film, Equilibrium. In Gattaca we see that genetic perfection does not destine us for greatness or happiness. Just as in Equilibrium, the removal of anger and other negative emotions do not lead to a perfect society or joyful life.


This is not just sci-fi. I still remember my emotions while watching this masterpiece...so it's not just good, but there is a deep meaning of life. If the others tell you that you are not good enough, don't listen to them! Nobody is stupid, nobody is weak. With determination you can overcome every problem. If you are young, it's not too late to watch it :)


Gattaca can be enjoyed on unusually many levels, including a very Hitchcock-like murder mystery subplot. The main focus is however sharply on the relationship of the individual and expectations of the larger society, a classic theme set in a sci-fi setting veering quite a bit in the direction of Philip K. Dick's work. Arguably you could watch the entire film just admiring the well-crafted cinematography and enjoying all the odd visual and verbal details and colors thrown in.Now that we live in a weird era when social media helps the morons take over in many countries Gattaca seems a different film than when it was made. Surely meant to be a frightening dystopia at the time it now seems not the worst possible future at all. But utopia it is not. In Gattaca parents can and do have genetically engineered children with superior health and qualities. A blood test will reveal their future potential. This makes it easy for employers to pick out an elite work force. Some of the consequences are thoughtfully explored in the film. The main character capably portrayed by Ethan Hawke fools the system to become a space navigator - the word astronaut is not used in the film.The one annoying element of the film are the repetitive blood tests the would-be space pilots have to pass every single day, over and over. Although part of the core plot, you find yourself thinking: please don't test him AGAIN. On with it! Gattaca is a dream for those people who go to movies to pick out holes in the plot. There are a lot of inconsistencies and contradictions but I do not really see what would be the point of rooting them all out. In this kind of film, intentional and unintentional oddities are part of the flavor, like a spice. To me, one very memorable scene is where Hawke walks into his space ship, all dressed up in a dark suit and tie instead of a space suit and helmet. Really weird but quite intentional. Or the one where Jude Law slowly drags himself up a spiral staircase, an obvious but pleasant homage to the great Alfred Hitchcock and his Vertigo. As for acting, this future is a very cool one where emotions are not shown. The lead trio of Hawke, Thurman and Law play it very low-key and you will have to be alert to try and track what is going on in their minds. Which is where the action is in this rather slow film. As many have noted, this is a film rich in not-so-obvious detail. Watch it another time, see different things.