This is one of my favourite SF films. It’s set in the future where a gene test determines your future at birth; those with imperfections are ‘in-valids’, who will spend their lives in ‘lowly’ jobs, whereas the ‘perfect’, which can be arranged via pre-natal screening, form the elite. A little bit like 21st century UK, then, without the tests. If your family can afford to send you to certain schools then you have a good chance of joining the elite and those of your class in power, Cameron and his cronies at present, will ensure that the taxation system favours your ilk. I may exaggerate but not too much.
Ethan Hawke plays an ‘in-valid’ who takes on the identity of a ‘valid’, a brilliant Jude Law, who’s crippled. He then can take part in the space programme despite being less than perfect. However a murder investigation, led by his estranged brother, threatens to reveal Vincent Freeman’s identity. Like many dystopias, such as Huxley’s novel Brave New World, class is the key determinant. SF is an excellent genre for investigating scenarios of the future based upon current trends; in this case genetic engineering.
Scripted and directed by Andrew Niccol, who also wrote the brilliant The Truman Show (US, 1998), Gattaca interrogates ideas of what it means to be human within a gripping thriller structure. In addition, the future envisaged takes its cue from Blade Runner (US, 1982) in realising that retro, in this case the cars and the policemen’s garb, is more convincing than imagined futuristic design. The film looks great and I particularly liked the climactic scene that cross-cuts between Law’s Eugene and Freeman.