Archive for February 11th, 2013

‘Gattaca’ portrays a chilly, chilling future in which one’s fate is decoded from DNA

February 11, 2013

Literature and film are full of tales of people who steal, borrow or exchange identities. Few have been as carefully thought out as Gattaca, the futuristic 1997 drama written and directed by Andrew Niccol.

The protagonist is one Jerome Morrow, né Vincent Freeman. His parents chose to conceive him without using genetic engineering to select helpful traits and weed out unhelpful ones. A heart defect, detected nearly instantaneously by genetic scanners that seem to be ubiquitous in Gattaca’s near-future setting, prevents Freeman from realizing his dearest dream, which is to be an astronaut.

But Freeman finds a way to cheat. One Jerome Morrow sells his genetic identity to Freeman; having been paralyzed from the waist down, there’s no other way for Morrow to fund his decadent lifestyle.

The two become uneasy roommates and doppelgängers; Freeman mimics Morrow’s hairstyle and has surgery to lengthen his legs to match the recorded height of the man he is impersonating. Morrow diligently collects dead skin, blood and urine that Freeman dispenses as needed to pass for a man with a princely genome.

But Freeman’s subterfuge is jeopardized just days before he is scheduled to depart for a year-long mission to explore one of Saturn’s moons. When an official at Freeman’s organization, Gattaca, is murdered, cops arrive to vacuum up physical evidence. A loose eyelash indicates the presence of Freeman, who isn’t officially cleared to be on site. Thus the protagonist becomes the target of a most inconvenient manhunt.

To complicate matters, Freeman strikes up a flirtation with a co-worker, Irene Cassini, that heats up quickly. At the very moment Freeman should be most eager to shed his Earthly ties, his heart finds itself moving on an unexpected trajectory.  Read the rest of this entry »

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