Starring: Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, Uma Thurman
Director: Andrew Niccol
Running Time: 106 mins
Gattaca is an American film about a near future where humans are modelled at birth to be as genetically perfect as possible. However, one man who was never born in such a way takes a daring risk by assuming the identity of a genetically superior man to achieve his lifelong dream.
This was a pretty good film. As far as dystopian sci-fi movies go, this is one of the better ones, pulling together intriguing and complex ideas about developments in science and society, as well as an exciting and entertaining story to keep you engaged. With strong performances and a wonderful visual style, this film was a pretty entertaining watch, albeit never quite as emotionally enthralling as it perhaps wants to be.
Let’s start off with what I liked most about this film, the directing. Andrew Niccol does an excellent job here, creating an incredibly eerie and unnerving atmosphere throughout. At times reminiscent of the likes of Logan’s Run, Niccol really understands what makes a compelling dystopian sci-fi, and that shines through so clearly in his directing style.
On the one hand, the film’s visuals are tinted with a disturbing greenish-brown right the way through. Apart from visually reducing the glamour of everything in this future world, it’s an ingenious trick that plays on your mind throughout, and really gives the film that unsettling atmosphere that ups the stakes so much.
What’s more is that, although it’s set in the near future, this film has a distinct noir quality to it. One man secretly on the run against all odds, featuring a femme fatale and a dastardly detective, if the setting were totally different, I could have easily taken this for an old 40s film-noir. But again, that plays into Gattaca’s brilliant ability to unnerve you, as it’s always on the edge, leaving you too on the edge of your seat right up until the end.
Beyond the directing, the story is pretty good too. The best part of the film’s plot is its central themes and ideas about modifying human genetics and the discrimination that develops in a society as a result of that. Fascinating and very original for its time, that part of the story always provides great intrigue, and helps you to sympathise with the plight of our main character.
The noir-esque story also gives the film a fast pace, adding to the excitement and drama of it all. However, the one issue that I do have with the story is the fact that it doesn’t quite manage to invoke the emotional reaction that it wants to. Sure, it’s easy to sympathise with the protagonist, and the central themes are definitely thought-provoking, but I felt that it was just shy of really packing an emotional punch, which would have made for an utterly enthralling watch.
Overall, however, I really enjoyed Gattaca. Intelligent, intriguing and original, it’s a film that’ll definitely get you thinking, whilst its stylish directing throughout is always a treat, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.