Vincent (Ethan Hawke) dreams of becoming a space pilot, but in the world in which he lives only those people with prime genetic material can attain the top jobs. Determined to succeed, he makes a deal with the genetically-perfect Jerome (Jude Law) which will provide him with fresh daily samples of Jerome's urine, skin and hair, thus allowing him to fake his identity and find a place on the space program. The plan starts off working perfectly, but when one of the company's directors is murdered and Vincent becomes the main suspect, it can only be a matter of time before his secret is revealed.
Confidently conceived and brilliantly executed, Gattaca
had a somewhat low profile release in 1997, but audiences and critics hailed the film's originality. It's since been recognised as one of the most intelligent science fiction films of the 1990s. Writer-director Andrew Niccol, the talented New Zealander who also wrote the acclaimed Jim Carrey vehicle The Truman Show
, depicts a near-future society in which one's personal and professional destiny is determined by one's genes. In this society, "Valids" (genetically engineered) qualify for positions at prestigious corporations, such as Gattaca, which grooms its most qualified employees for space exploration. "In-Valids" (naturally born), such as the film's protagonist, Vincent (Ethan Hawke), are deemed genetically flawed and subsequently fated to low-level occupations in a genetically caste society. With the help of a disabled "Valid" (Jude Law), Vincent subverts his society's social and biological barriers to pursue his dream of space travel; any random mistake--and an ongoing murder investigation at Gattaca--could reveal his plot. Part thriller, part futuristic drama and cautionary tale, Gattaca
establishes its social structure so convincingly that the entire scenario is chillingly believable. With Uma Thurman as the woman who loves Vincent and identifies with his struggle, Gattaca
is both stylish and smart, while Jude Law's performance lends the film a note of tragic and heartfelt humanity.--Jeff Shannon