Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gattaca (1997) [PG-13] *****

Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) has dreamed of space travel ever since he was a boy. However, since he had been conceived naturally, Vincent is genetically imperfect, an In-Valid or De-gene-erate in a world of elite Valid humans who have been created from carefully selected genetic material, and so are virtually defect-free. With In-Valid DNA, the only way Vincent can enter Gattaca, the launch site for interplanetary spaceships, is as a janitor.

So Vincent hires a DNA broker (Tony Shalhoub) who introduces him to Jerome Eugene Morrow (Jude Law in his first film role). Jerome is a Valid, a man with virtually perfect DNA; however, he's a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, the result of an automobile accident. Jerome rents his identity to Vincent, and provides him with samples of his Valid bodily fluids so Vincent can pass the daily substance tests at Gattaca. Vincent becomes Jerome and succeeds as a navigator at Gattaca, despite having a congenital heart defect that could kill him at any time. He's scheduled to depart on a mission to Saturn's moon Titan when one of Gattaca's directors is brutally murdered and a team of police investigators, led by Vincent's Valid brother Anton (Loren Dean), descends on Gattaca and begins an investigation that threatens to reveal Vincent's true identity and jeopardize his place on the mission to Titan. At the same time, Vincent finds himself falling in love with Irene (Uma Thurman) a beautiful Valid co-worker who, coincidentally, also has a heart defect.

As a romantic thriller, Gattaca has a taut screenplay, timeless costumes and sets that are simultaneously both futuristic and retro, an evocative soundtrack, outstanding lead performances from Hawke, Thurman and Law, and excellent supporting performances from Loren Dean, Xander Berkeley as a Gattaca doctor, Gore Vidal as a Gattaca director, Alan Arkin as a police detective and Ernest Borgnine as a Gattaca janitorial supervisor. Hawke and Thurman have decent romantic chemistry in Gattaca. The evidence of their locationship on the Gattaca set was a liaison that resulted in Thurman's pregnancy, a marriage to Hawke in 1998, a second child, and a divorce in 2004.

Gattaca reminds us that we stand on the threshold of being able to manipulate our DNA and control our evolutionary future. The question is – should we? If we use DNA engineering to filter out our genetic flaws, weaknesses and diseases, will our future resemble the two-class world of Gattaca? As a note, the name GATTACA is derived from the first letters of the four nucleic acids that comprise DNA: Guanine, Adenine, Thymine and Cytosine. 

Labels: drama, romance, sci-fi, thriller
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 64/100
Tomatometer (critics=82, viewers=87)
Blu-ray

Wikipedia - DNA


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