No hyperbole; I'm completely serious. Yes, I'm a huge sci-fi nut/nerd, and it's the genre that probably appeals to me more viscerally (and deeply) than any other. But despite the stiff competition, this film has been one of my very favorites ever since I saw it for the first time, and subsequent viewings have only increased my affection and appreciation for its charms. It was the subject of the second film article I ever wrote (publicly, at least), and it remains one of a handful of "go-to films" when I want to ensure a vigorous, thoughtful post-viewing conversation with my family and friends.
Writer-director, Andrew Niccol, who also wrote The Truman Show, says that he likes to write stories that are set "five minutes in the future." And this is as insightful -- and as frightening -- a projection of our future as I've ever seen. Still seems pretty likely, to me.
An engrossing sci-fi thriller about an all-too-human man who dares to defy a system obsessed with genetic perfection. Vincent, an "In-Valid" who assumes the identity of a member of the genetic elite to pursue his goal of traveling into space with the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation, is marked as a murder suspect mere days before embarking on his mission. With a relentless investigator in pursuit and a colleague he has fallen in love with beginning to suspect his deception, Vincent's dreams start to unravel.
The cast is spectacular, without exception. The writing? Sharp, yet surprisingly subtle. And the art direction remains among the most spectacular I've ever seen, populated with vehicles and environments that seem almost familiar, yet not quite. Truly, "five minutes in the future." Yet despite the incredibly high production values, it's still the ideas and the vision and the warning of the lengths to which our society might go in its quest for flawlessness that most resonates.
Me, from years ago, saying something that still seems very true, even now:
The movie's original (and ultimately unused) title, The Eighth Day, is a clear reference to the notion that man's pursuit of genetic perfection is simply an effort to improve on God's seven days of Creation, as well as an equally clear indication of Niccol's own views on the matter. It is a warning for that time when humans will control their own "evolution," and a suggestion that we should be cautious – even fearful – of the consequences of such power.
The expectation of flawlessness is a very different thing from the pursuit of perfection.