The film Gattaca(1997) truly got me and moved me since the opening credits, a wonderful piece of graphics in itself designed by Michael Riley [Imaginary Forces studio].
It's a science fiction movie written and directed by New Zeeland Andrew Niccol, set in a future when liberal eugenics is common and DNA plays the primary role in determining social class. One person's life is determined by genetic engineering rather than education or experience. Vincent -Ethan Awke- is conceived and born without the aid of this technology, and as such he is one of the "in-valids" destined to cover menial jobs. He has a high probability of developing mental disorders, is myopic, has a heart defect, and his projected life expectancy is only 30.2 years. Nevertheless he yearns to break free from society's constraints, and he dreams of a journey into space as a Gattaca Corporation austronaut.
Those in the natural-born minority are viewed as inferior to the pre-planned perfect specimens named "Valids" who dominate. To accomplish his goal Vincent needs to hide his real identity and "in-valid" status: he will assume the identity of Jerome -Jude Law- a former swimming star with a genetic profile "second to none", injured in a car accident and left paralyzed from the waist down.
Vincent uses his "valid" DNA in blood, hair, tissue, and urine samples everyday to pass screening. To keep his identity hidden, he must meticulously groom and scrub down daily to remove his own genetic material and then dust himself with Jerome's.
He will be finally scheduled for a flying mission. However, a week before his flight, a Gattaca mission director is murdered, and all members of the program are suspects. Police discover an eyelash of the real Vincent on the premises, making him the prime suspect. A paper cup used by Vincent is also found after he gave it to Caesar the cleaner.
Meanwhile, he becomes close to one of his co-worker, Irene - Uma Thurman- a beautiful Valid prevented from going into space because of her heart defect.
She will find out about his real identity in shock but will at the end accept him for what he really is.
Once the real murderer is discovered Vincent is in the clear. The chief detective is revealed to be his "valid" brother who accuses him of fraud and of being unworthy of his place at Gattaca. They challenge each other to swim out as they used to do when they were young, and once again Vincent wins. As he puts it "he never saved anything for the swim back".
Finally Vincent will leave for his mission. Jerome - who had confessed he was not victim of an accident but tried suicide after winning the silver medal instead of the gold one - leaves him enough genetic material to continue impersonate him for the rest of his life. Then kills himself climbing inside his home incinerator.
... Vincent will risk to be exposed at the very last moment, but will be helped unexpectedly by the father of an "invalid" who dreams to be one day an austronaut despite of a genetic defect.
The rocket lifts off with Vincent, and he opens the card from Jerome to find no words—just a hair sample.
He is saddened to leave, despite never having a place in the world. He muses, "They say every atom in our bodies was once a part of a star. Maybe I'm not leaving; maybe I'm going home."
I think Gattaca is a powerful movie with very strong visual impact. Even if at first the idea of selection by genetics seems horrifying, I could not stop asking myself if -given the choice and chance- I would not rather give my children the best genetic set possible.
Mmm... very controversial issue...