“I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started Gattaca, but I’m so glad that I decided to take the journey.”
Last night I watched Gattaca and it was an interesting experience because I wasn’t a huge fan while watching the movie, but as soon as it ended I realized that I loved it. For those who don’t know Gattaca is a film that takes place in the “not-too-distant future” and focuses on a major type of discrimination that is present: gene discrimination. Ethan Hawke plays Vincent, a man who was born naturally in a world where designer babies are the norm. This of course means that Vincent is not immune to the many diseases and issues that humans normally face, which then brings us back to the whole discrimination thing. The rest of the movie is essentially about Vincent trying to infiltrate this system of “perfect humans” and fulfil his dream of going to space.
Gattaca is a movie that really manages to create an experience for you while you watch it. I mentioned earlier that I wasn’t so much a fan while the movie was on, but as soon as it ended I fell in love; I’ll explain that a little later. First I want to discuss what I loved about Gattaca from the very start. As I said, Gattaca is a movie that takes place in the future, and the implementation of this is what instantly drew me in. I am obsessed with different interpretations of what the future will be like so any movie that shows that will instantly engage me, but there is something about the way Gattaca does it that is so beautiful to watch. Nothing shown in Gattaca is too out of the ordinary; all of the “gadgets” are really just improvements on shit that we already have. You have cars that look completely normal but get plugged in, genetics labs that test potential lovers, and genetic scanners as your identification. Okay, maybe the last two are a little outlandish, but we do have stuff like that the only difference is our versions aren’t really consumer-based. Gattaca never harped on any one advancement that it was presenting, which made all of them seem all the more real. Seeing characters interact with these things as if they had done so for years really made me feel like I was actually getting a look at the “not-too-distant future”. And those are just the small, “world building” things; the real magic is when you get to the overall story of Gattaca. A world where people can make babies that are practically super-humans is one that doesn’t seem all that far-fetched, at least to me. And the fact that “normal” humans are then discriminated against makes even more sense. The world that was built within Gattaca is not completely unbelievable to anyone watching, and that is what makes it so impactful. The story draws you in, and keeps your attention, but if you ever get bored you can always just look for other little “future improvements” that the movie showcases. This also helps the movie not feel dated in any way. Despite coming out in 1997 Gattaca is a movie that could just as easily have been released today. Everything about Gattaca is timeless, and that’s part of the reason that I love it so much.
Gattaca is a good movie not only because of the story or the wonderfully implemented future world, but also for literally everything else. To start off I want to compliment the acting in the film from all parties. Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman both did amazing jobs fitting in with the “corporate drone” motif that Gattaca had set up, and it was this performance that made me think the movie as about androids before I was informed otherwise. I could go on and on about why their performances (and everyone else’s performances) were so great, but I’ll try to condense my thoughts. The need to keep your head down and contribute to the “well-oiled machine” that is Gattaca is something that is very present in the film, and is highlighted by the performances of many of the workers. The movie didn’t really show us much of the world outside of Gattaca, but we can assume that jobs are not the greatest (especially for normies), so keeping your job is imperative. On the other side of that coin you have Jude Law who delivers a wonderful performance as a “perfect human” who is sick of perfection. It is human nature to be fucked up every once in a while and Jude Law shows what lacking that ability will do to a person. One can only assume that everyone we see in the movie is only one bad day away from becoming like Jude Law’s character, so he is kind of like a warning for all. Moving on we have brilliant performances from both Alan Arkin and Loren Dean, who play cops who are at different ends of the “future spectrum”; Alan Arkin’s character being the old-school “rough up some guys and get some answers” kind of cop, while Loren Dean’s character is the newer “let the computer do the work for us” kind of cop. This relationship doesn’t really become like a buddy-cop film, but it does a great job of showing the contrast of the “present day” to the “future”. I could go on and on about specific people’s performances in Gattaca but I think I’ve shown that there are many different people, playing many different roles so well, that all come together and make Gattaca great. Another quick note I want to mention is the absolutely beautiful score that is present in Gattaca. I didn’t really notice it until about halfway through (which is a good thing if you think about it), but after that I couldn’t get over how beautiful the music was in almost every scene. It once again adds to the “elegance” that the future has in Gattaca.
Finally I want to discuss why I didn’t love the movie right away, as I mentioned before. Watching Gattaca was very interesting for me because about half way through I lost almost all interest in the film. I had essentially hit a wall where I assumed that nothing I was being shown had any relevance to the story, and I just wanted the movie to get on with it. What I didn’t realize at the time was my expectations were way off base. Gattaca essentially opens up with our main character being informed that he is going to space. I assumed that this would be the plot of the movie, so when he wasn’t going into space I got a bit restless. I wanted something big to happen because I didn’t realize that Gattaca is not that kind of movie. Gattaca is what I would call a “slow burn”; never are you on the edge of your seat, but things do get pretty intense at times. I personally wish I could go and back and warn myself that Gattaca is not a space movie, but rather a grim look at a possible future; I’m sure I would have liked it more. That’s why at the end of the movie, I understood everything. I understood that what I though was the movie “stalling” was just the movie. This may be seen by many as a bad thing, but it was completely my mistake. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started Gattaca, but I’m so glad that I decided to take the journey.
Overall Gattaca is a movie that I can say surprised me. From the moment it started I was drawn in; with the amazing story, wonderful world-building, and phenomenal performances. I did feel the movie started to drag toward the middle, but I’ll take the responsibility for that because I had completely different expectations for the movie. Luckily the ending brought me right back in and made me realize that Gattaca was prefect from start to finish.
I give Gattaca an A