Saturday, July 4, 2009

Gattaca (1997)

Starring Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, Uma Thurman, et al
Rated PG-13, 106 minutes

In the futuristic world of "Gattaca," parents can use DNA to figure out their child's lot in life right from birth - even their life expectancy. Vincent (Hawke) was a "child of God." His parents chose not to engineer their son, instead leaving it to fate. Right out of the womb, doctors knew Vincent had a near-100% chance for heart disease, and would only live to be 30. When it came time to give Vincent a brother, his parents went the gene-ified route, making a child built for success. Having a DNA resume fraught with imperfections, Vincent was relegated to future society's lower class, working as a janitor. But he had dreams of going to space. And he would achieve them however he could.

Vincent hooks up with a black market dealer of identities. When able bodies become lame, their DNA goes up for sale in the underground. Jerome Morrow (Law), a former swimming champ who threw himself in front of a car after "only" winning the silver medal, is his choice. They enter a relationship where Jerome provides the samples, and Vincent goes to work. Will he be found out?

I must be young at heart, because I still like fictional looks into the future. This one had the added bonus of all the neat ways Vincent gets around not being who he says he is. Fake fingers for identity computers to poke. Scores of skin flakes and hair from Jerome. Every genetic piece of evidence is crucial. It was chilling and clever to see Vincent/Jerome interview for the space job by only providing a urine sample.

This future was distinct and cool. Interiors were very clean; exteriors were an unnerving shade of yellow. The characters with wooden personalities seemed to fit in this environment. It helped Jude Law's boisterous performance stand out more. This is my second exposure to his films, and I enjoyed his work again. Also appearing were Tony Shalhoub, Alan Arkin, Gore Vidal and Ernest Borgnine. They all fell naturally into their roles.

I was surprised to find out "Gattaca" was made 12 years ago. It looked so fresh. Maybe it's because I watched it in crisp HD, but I feel the visuals were right in step with the cutting edge. The only thing I didn't like on the visual front were two distracting jump cuts during key scenes.


I found myself practically yelling advice to the characters at points. That, plus Jude Law, the great visuals, and the intrigue of the future helped me push this into 3.75 territory.


NoneUponThars said...

I thought Uma's character was kind of weird in this movie. I was surprised that she wasn't angrier to find out that the man she loved had lied about absolutely everything. "You're actually a completely different person than I thought you were and you tricked your employer by illegally impersonating someone with better DNA??? But we both have a heart condition, so I forgive you!!" A man obviously wrote that part in...Or a woman that usually writes chick flicks. In general, I could have done without Uma's character altogether.
I did like Jude Law's character, though. The final scene was particularly poignant, and I loved how they paralleled Vincent/Jerome's shuttle takeoff to Jerome/Eugene's suicide. That was especially artsy and got a gold star in my book :D

say_andy said...

I saw this for the first time earlier this year and enjoyed it. Especially because I had just read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which obviously influenced this greatly.