Film Review: Gattaca

I listen to two film podcasts, one from the writers of Empire Magazine and one from the BBC presented by Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode, lovingly known as Wittertainment. The BBC’s flagship film podcast includes a “TV Film Of The Week” feature, which as an almost running joke, is usually a film being broadcast at approximately 2.30am on Film4. And whilst in the age of digital video recorders that isn’t really an issue, it does somehow cause me to forget about it. As if mentally a film broadcast that late is a TV Listing afterthought and not actually worth watching whatever they claim.

However, this week James King sat in for the holidaying Mark Kermode and picked a film that I’d never heard of, on a channel I wasn’t sure I could receive, but, at a time I would actually be awake for. It seemed rude not to investigate it further, and when he then lauded it as it a “beautiful and touching piece of smart sci-fi”, it seemed to make sense to watch it. Especially as it stars Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law who have all gone on to do OK for themselves! The film in question being Gattaca.

James King (Film Critic) - Gattaca

Having found I could receive the channel in question, I must admit that I didn’t watch it “as live”, instead recording it so I could skip the ad-breaks, something I’m glad I did as the channel stretched each pause to an impressive 6 minutes long, but even with an annoying break in the action everyonce in a while and a scramble to find the TV remote, I have to admit that James King was spot on with his summary of the film. It truly is a beautiful and smart piece of sci-fi.

There is just this wonderfully inviting warmth and charm in the simplicity of it’s story and it’s narrative. It’s not the type of film that will really challenge you, or ask you deep and meaningful questions demanding long and referenced answers. Gattaca takes you by the hand, and carefully and compassionately leads you through it’s story. Not in a condescending way, or speaking in a tone that feels belittling, but rather just expertly laying out the themes and points of what it wants to say so clearly that it feels befriending. Not needing to speak anything directly because you understand every motive, and reason and need through a subconscious absorption. It just makes sense because everything fits together so well.

Ethan Hawke - Gattaca

Because you feel so involved, so there, Gattaca just oozes over you emotionally. There is a real passion to the film that smoothers you, like the passing of time just unavoidable, catching you and making you truly feel for the characters. They are real, they are there, with you and it forces you to empathise with them. Tension and anxiety just logically and clearly building inside you, feeling right, never overwhelming you but noticeably effecting your reactions as the the story to unfold.

Director Andrew Niccol needs to take credit because the construction of the film is a work of art, but it is so glorious because it’s backed up by the performances of it’s cast. Like most things in the film, you really buy into them. Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law may be three instantly recognisable faces, but that doesn’t matter. There celebrity almost melts away. They are the characters, and you forget that any life or world even exists outside the film. That is how strong they are. Ethan Hawke especially has such authority and belief in his role you can almost see him conducting the world around him with complete conviction. These are actors totally at ease with their characters and totally immersed in the story. I haven’t actually seen many films with Thurman or Law, but Gattaca is certainly the most strikingly performance I’ve seen from Hawke, there is a richness and power to it that is beyond anything in Boyhood or The Before… trilogy.

Jude Law (Technology) - Gattaca

For a film produced in 1997 Gattaca does feel somewhat dated visually. Yet it just adds an extra element to the film, it’s wrong but perfectly right. I just found the simplicity of the story completely complimented by technology that no longer looked modern. It visually fits the tone, emphasising the important points, and making the film feel even more real. The world jut feels right and almost better for it’s touch of retro elegance.

I had never heard of Gattaca. but it’s stunning. I fell head and shoulders into it’s world and it’s reminded me why I love cinema and films so much. It truly is a beautiful film that gets inside you and lingers, and leaves you longing for me. It’s enjoyable and clever and never once lost my interest or left me bored. It’s a exquisite little gem, in which very little stands out and yet oozes class and leaves you knowning that you’ve just seen something slightly special. I’d implore you to watch.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

Comments are closed.