Gattaca is set in a dystopian future society where the socio-economic class divide is determined by genetics instead of education or talent.
The world has been clearly divided into the haves (those able to afford the genetic manipulation of their offspring) who are referred to as “valids”, and the have-nots (the rest of the population who cannot afford genetic manipulation) who are called “in-valids”.
The story follows Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke), an in-valid who attempts to join the Gattaca space program (his greatest dream in life) by illegally exchanging identities with Jerome (Jude Law), a paraplegic with perfect DNA.
How he does this armed with blood and urine samples is ingeniously shown by New Zealand screenwriter Andrew Niccol (in his directorial debut), who mints a new genre vocabulary with his absorbing, intelligent and suspenseful story.
Vincent enters the space program and everything goes according to plan until one week before his departure into space when a mission director is murdered, causing a widespread search for the killer amongst all involved in the program.
In Niccol’s future society, a dustbuster is deadlier than a gun, and wearing contact lenses means the choice between life or death.
An intelligent, cool and ultra-stylish exploration about the ethics surrounding genetic engineering and science, Gattaca is a stunningly designed and shot piece of psychological science fiction, full to the brim with social commentary.
The film also features Uma Thurman as Vincent’s love interest and an impressive supporting cast, which includes Ernest Borgnine, Alan Arkin, Elias Koteas and Gore Vidal.
Whilst not a great commercial success, Gattaca received an Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction (Set Decoration) as well as winning Best Film and Soundtrack awards at the Stiges Film Festival.
William Lee Scott