Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Is the future, Kafka, Orwell, or George Lucas? Andrew Niccol thinks genetics. "We have discrimination down to a science," a white coat explains. No explanation necessary. Vincent (Ethan Hawke) knows the price of being a love child. Random genes. In Valid.

His parents didn't make the same mistake with Anton, their second son. He was genetically ordered, down to the smallest detail. As a result, he was better at everything and Vincent hated it, hated his life, his childhood, his prospects (low caste cleaning duties with no chance of promotion), this brave new world, the blood coursing in his veins betraying him, will always betray him - In Valid.

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Vincent's ambition is to ride a rocket to the stars. He wants more. He wants to work at Gattaca, the techno core of the space programme, and be accepted as a potential flight commander. He wants to be chosen. It is not easy. He takes the life of another. No death involved. No Faustian pact. The other is an Englishman (Jude Law), with all the right credentials, scientific and otherwise, who, after a sporting accident, becomes partially paralysed. They work together to pull off this grand fraud, Vincent as a Valid, as a dazzling student at Gattaca.

Niccol is definitely a Kafka man. The creation of his futuristic world, ruled by a strict code of genetic purity, where emotional intercourse has danger attached and love is a virus that can lead to unprogrammed progeny (Higher Being forbid!) is cool as ice.

Identical perfect young men and Irene (Uma Thurman), an identical perfect young woman, perform their tasks like autonomons, and yet underneath, privately, secretely, all manner of intrigue shivers with anticipation. The design has a stainless veneer, bathed in early morning light. The acting is controlled (Thurman), arrogant (Law) and watchful (Hawke).

Tension exists like a heartbeat, always there. The cops are on the case, not Vincent's, not yet. They are thorough. Someone's been murdered - the controller at Gattica. Will Vincent reach the stars before his cover is blown? Niccol makes every breath matter, as if there are only so many before shut down.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A man considered genetically inferior, switches identity to realise his dream of space travel.
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Director: Andrew Niccol

Writer: Andrew Niccol

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law, Gore Vidal, Xander Berkeley, Jayne Brook, Elias Koteas, Maya Rudolph, Una Damon, Elizabeth Dennehy, Blair Underwood, Mason Gamble

Year: 1997

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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