Set in a future when genetic engineering allows many couples to arrange for perfected babies, Gattaca tells the story of one imperfect man's successful fight against the odds. Born "naturally" with several serious imperfections, Vincent (Ethan Hawke) nevertheless grows up dreaming only of being an astronaut. As a member of the genetic underclass, he is able to work only as a custodian at Gattaca, the future version of NASA.

Vincent's frustration drives him to engage a sort of identity broker who arranges for him to appear to change his physical identity with Jerome (Jude Law), a member of the elite who has been paralyzed in an accident. Through this complex deception Vincent finally succeeds in being selected as an astronaut for an upcoming mission to a moon of Saturn. A large part of this future thriller consists of Vincent's heroic attempts to continue to pass as Jerome through a series of genetic checks.


The film's future society has been restructured on the basis of genetic perfectibility and is maintained by frequent genetic identity testing. Thus medical science winds up on the side of a social determinism based on physical characteristics. Vincent finally gets to go to Saturn, but only after an extraordinary series of escapes.

The film asks us if all this genetic knowledge and medical technology is a good thing, for parents and children as well as for society generally, in which physical perfectibility has, ironically, led to an obsession with flaws. Vincent's go-for-broke struggle to realize his dream strikes a blow against the status quo on behalf of the human spirit--for which, as is observed in the film, there is no gene.


Academy Award nomination for Best Art director/Set Decoration; Golden Globe nomination for Best Score.

Primary Source

Columbia Tristar Home Video