Director: Andrew Niccol
Running Time: 106 Minutes
“No, we now have discrimination down to a science.“
In the not-too-distant future, in a world based on and obsessed with perfection, there is one man who refuses to accept what chance has allotted him, and chooses to change his stars.
Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) was a love-child, born in the time of genetic modification. Society has evolved to the point of predictable outcomes, especially where procreation is concerned. At birth, medical practitioners can estimate the date and year of a person’s death. This makes Vincent unique. Instead of being engineered in a Petri dish, he was the product of a loving union. This also means that he is genetically inferior to almost everyone else in him life, labelled an “in-valid”, and ultimately will never realise his goal of exploring the stars.
This does not mean that he doesn’t try. But try as he might, the world keeps saying no. He decides to take drastic measures. Illegal measures. Through a middleman, he is paired with the genetically “valid”, Jerome Morrow (Jude Law). Jerome is Vincent’s genetic superior in every conceivable way, and will likely live for a century or more. No amount of perfect genetics can fix a broken back, leaving Jerome wheelchair bound and miserable. So begins the painstaking process of becoming Jerome Morrow.
After years of preparation and subterfuge, it would seem that Vincent is going to see his dream realised. It is at this point that two things happen: 1. An important executive within the institution is murdered, and 2. Vincent meets Irene (Uma Thurman).
Performances & Cinematography
There were so many sublime performances in this film. The two that I want to focus on are that of Hawke and Law. Vincent, as a character, is relatable on a very visceral level as we have all felt inferior at some point in out lives, whether or not we’ve admitted that to ourselves. This means that the audience wants to see him succeed but without the film feeling preachy. His transformation into Jerome is more psychological than physical and the acting skill Hawke displayed was what won me over as a fan all those years ago. He doesn’t just portray Jerome, he IS Jerome. Jerome starts out as sullen, downtrodden and depressed. Through Law’s craftsmanship and beautiful direction, the character blossom’s before the viewer without them even realising it. Though he is meant to represent the oppressive privileged in this film, Law’s portrayal encompasses the emotion turmoil of unrealised potential as its finest.
Though a sci-fi film, Gattaca was more of a drama and as such did not really rely on special effects for its imagery. At 18 years old, the film looks great and has clearly aged well, largely – I believe – because of the vintage feel and minimal use of CGI. The sepia colouring, pill boxes, “old-timey” costuming and sets, and props all add to the beautiful blend of old and new. No one era is prominent in this film, it’s almost at if the director and producers decided to use the best aspects of several eras and blend them into one cohesive environment.
This is a beautifully crafted masterpiece, from beginning to end. This is a film that I have watched a dozen times or more, and each time I watch it I take something new from it. In part, because of my own life experience impacting on the way I view the narrative but also because it is a multi-faceted, layered film.
A definite must see for those who believe in making their own destiny and that no-one can tell you who you are or where you belong. It’s the perfect story for anyone who has been labelled as inferior based on superficial things but succeeded on their wits and sheer perseverance. This is a story about anyone who has never accepted the idea of not being good enough nor given in to society’s low expectations of them.
My rating: 5/5
Buy or rent Gattaca on Amazon.com
You might like: