Thursday, August 18, 2011


Gattaca   USA   1997   ***

This is actually a great sci fi movie, and on a more objective scale would get more stars, but its devotee appeal is mixed. The movie is set in the not-too-distant future, when DNA testing has become so advanced that doctors can tell everything about a person’s physical and mental potential just by their genes. In a world where every baby is genetically engineered for perfection, and job applicants are screened by their genes, our hero Vincent (Ethan Hawke) is an outcast whose defective genes relegate him to  a life of menial labor. Convinced that he is just as good as anyone else, and obsessed with becoming an astronaut, he buys the identity of a man with better genes and fakes his way into Gattaca, the company that will send him into outer space.  The man whose identity he buys is Jerome (Jude Law), whose perfect genes once made him a success, but who lost it all after he became a paraplegic. Now Devo Girl finds this very disturbing. The idea that genetics could determine how our whole society is set up is a scary one, and becoming more plausible every day, and of course the first to lose out in such a society would be those born with disabilities. The whole moral of the movie is that a person is more than just his physical potential, and even though Vincent is physically disadvantaged because he has a heart condition, he is still able to do as much as anyone else. But then we have Jerome, who becomes totally useless as a human being because he can’t walk. Is this because Jerome still believes that he must have a perfect body in order to live a meaningful life? Or would the movie have us believe there is a fundamental difference between an invisible disability such as a heart condition, and an all too visible SCI? The fact is that Jerome is angry, embittered and not very likeable. But ethical questions aside, it’s worth the price of admission just to see hunky Jude Law fling himself out of his chair and drag himself up a flight of stairs. Uma Thurman also appears as the love interest (for Vincent of course--damn, she went for the wrong guy!)

1 comment:

  1. My take on it was that Jerome was only suffering the same prejudices that Vincent had dealt with since birth. I didn't think the movie was undermining its point, but rather giving another example of someone whose lack of supposed perfection according to that society doomed him.

    I also liked that people who are not genetically engineered are called "invalid." Jerome is "valid" though in our society he could be called "invalid."