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Nitpicking Blood - "Gattaca" Review

Updated on June 6, 2021
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interests are science fiction and zombie movies. I also enjoy pessimistic and survival films a lot.

In this biopunk vision of the near future, society is overseen by eugenics. The obvious step forward to the ever-growing loss of privacy, screening and diagnosing the genetics of citizens has become a common and widespread practice in almost every aspect of everyday life.

Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) is one of the last "mistakes" of a couple who wanted to conceive a child without genetic selection. His diagnosis presents a life expectancy of 30 years and a high probability of genetic disorders, which has condemned him to be an "in-valid" citizen.

His younger brother, Anton (Loren Dean), is his "improved" version. With a genetic selection from the moment of his conception, Anton is a "valid" citizen, which means he'll have exponentially more opportunities in his life.

But Vincent has a stubborn, warlike and tenacious personality. He meets Jerome Morrow (Jude Law), a "valid" citizen that due to a car accident is now paraplegic which, unofficially, makes him an "in-valid". Vincent will pose as Jerome (to the point of using a rigorous genetic makeup) and in the process, both will win: Vincent will be a "valid" and Jerome will earn a portion of Vincent's earnings.

The plan is set. Vincent, using Jerome's identity, will begin his dream of being a navigator at the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation.

The name "Gattaca", by the way, is not exactly the best exercise of finesse and stealth policies. It's based on the letters G, A, T, and C, which stand for guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine, the four nucleobases of DNA, making clear their methods of genetic discrimination.

The exclusion perpetrated by Gattaca is not linked to a chauvinistic-racist-a-la-Adolf-Hitler dictatorial system or a horrendous cult-like powertrip. No, the Gattaca exclusion is way more terrifying because it's fully normalized.

The social fabric is completely intent on maintaining the hypocrisy and social divide between In-Valids and Valids. Genetic discrimination is allegedly illegal, but in reality, only those who successfully pass genetic profiling have access to the best professional and social opportunities.

Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, Gattaca is the sci-fi version of that class-manipulating lie of "people are poor because they want to." It's the fallacy of the freedom of private enterprise to elect its subordinates, while clearly executing discrimination with the complicit eyes of the state.

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The main core of Gattaca is condensed in a recurring scene. Since kids, Vincent and Anton have been playing a game called "chicken" in which they both swim out to sea, the loser being the first to surrender and return to shore.

For years, Vincent was beaten by Anton. But finally, with dedication, mental strength and an inspiring strategy of "not saving energy for the swim back," Vincent ends easily surpassing Anton not one, but twice.

That scene makes clear the testament about the error of assuming the human strength of an individual by its physical or detectable traits.

Gattaca is a suspense film about being inspected and judged for the wrong reasons. A defense for individuality and the unique internal fire of each person. Its cult status is understandable: Its central theme can be applied to any type of exclusion.

Movie Details

Title: Gattaca

Release Year: 1997

Director(s): Andrew Niccol

Actors: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law, a.o.

5 stars for Gattaca

© 2019 Sam Shepards

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