Exactly five seconds after he came into the world, Vincent Freeman was already considered to be a looser. His first genetic test revealed high probabilities of hyperactivity, sight troubles and serious heart diseases, a life expectancy of 30 years and 2 months and quite low intellectual faculties. At that time, the artificial insemination of test tube babies selected according to their genetic potential had become for many people the natural way of making children. But Vincents parents had preferred to let the other nature take its course. Of course they regretted it, and for their next child they went to see a geneticist. A perfect son has been born to them, a son who deserved to be called Anton, like his father. While Vincent was forced by his genetic code and the system to study at home, Anton was taller and better at anything than his elder brother. They used to play at softy. The game consisted of swimming in the sea as far as possible and being the last to make an about-turn.
Vincent was always the softy. But besides his weak health, he had a very strong will. His lifelong dream was to join Gattaca, probably the most prestigious company on earth whose activity is to explore galaxies, and go into space. To achieve his aim, he has not stopped studying during his whole adolescence, despite his fathers discouragements. One day, he tells him that, with his health problems, the only opportunity that he could get to see the inside of a spaceship was to do the cleaning in it. In a way, it was true. Gattaca was certainly not about to invest money to train him whereas there were so many other applicants with a better profile. A bit later, the boys played at softy again. But that time, Vincent won. For him, it was the moment that made all the rest possible, the moment when he realized that everything was possible. And one night, he left home to never go back there.
He found several works before joining Gattaca, but as his father had told him, as a cleaner. He had never been closer to his dream. Nevertheless at that time, he had never felt farther from it. But still full of will, he did not stop his efforts: intensive trainings, intensive studies and no social life. Thinking he was ready, he applied for a job and obtained an interview. Then he understood that his efforts would never be enough. The company would analyse anything to identify his genetic code: the trace left by a fingerprint, saliva on a glass, anything. This was called genoism and was forbidden but this law was not taken seriously.
Faced to this setback, he adopted the most radical solution. He met a man who introduced him Jerome Morrow. Jerome is a former athlete who was paralyzed after an accident and condemned to move in a wheelchair. He used to be a very good sportsman and had won a silver medal during the world championship. But it was not his only quality. His whole genetic code was perfect. The mans task was to help Vincent to take Jeromes identity. With such a profile, Vincent was to make a promising career in Gattaca. The man provided them all the equipment they needed so that Vincent could join the company and stay there under Jeromes identity, Vincent paid the man and Jeromes rent and Jerome gave his genetic code. Jerome was a bitter character who could not accept his paralysis and who also has difficulties to accept Vincent, the man who was going to become him, steal his identity. But little by little, he understood that there was a real exchange between them. While he was giving Vincent his life, Vincent gave him his dream and brought interest in his gloomy life.
Under Jeromes name and profile, Vincent climbed the rungs of Gattacas hierarchical ladder very quickly. Since any particle of his body could betray him, he used to brush his skin, his nails and his hair as meticulously as possible, to vacuum his desk and leave Jeromes hair or skin dust instead. He always had an urine clutch hidden for the frequent tests of illicit substances, false fingerprints with blood in it for the identity tests and even flasks of blood for blood tests directly taken into the vein, all this provided by Jerome.
Just when Vincent was about to be sent to undertake a mission on Titan, one of the managers is assassinated in his office. The police went through the whole company with a fine-tooth comb and found one of Vincents eyelashes. After a fast analysis, they found out that it belonged to a man who had worked long ago for the company as a cleaner but who had disappeared years before. The mysterious man was the number one suspect and his picture was everywhere. But no one matched it with the wrong Jerome. No one but the lieutenant who was no other than his brother, Anton. For him, that was hard to believe. This brother who had always been inferior to him was then far above in the hierarchy and had become a murderer. At first, he tried to protect him. Totally puzzled, he wanted to understand how Vincent managed to join Gattaca before he is arrested, so he did everything in order that the inspector who was in charge of the case could not find him.
Irene is an attractive and intelligent woman, also employee at Gattaca. She has got the same dream as Vincent but she presents an inadmissible risk of heart failure which stops her from going into space. She grew very fond of Vincent but she thought he would not be interested since she was not as perfect as him. Of course, Vincent does not have the same opinion as her or anybody else about shortcomings. He also had a soft spot for her so they started to see each other. Vincent was very preoccupied by the murder of his manager and Irene noticed it. She had strong doubts about Vincents innocence but she did not reject him for all that. On the other hand, she was much destabilized when she found out that Vincent (that she knew under Jerome Morrows name) had taken someone elses identity.
The day before Vincent was sent to Titan, the real culprit gave himself up. He was no other than another manager. He had set his heart on this mission and his colleague had threatened to cancel it. When the inspector informed Anton about the outcome of the investigation, this one had just met Jerome and discovered the subterfuge. That night, Vincent went and saw his brother. The latter tried to persuade him to give himself up to the police, telling him that he would not give him up and that he would help him. But Vincent had not made such strong efforts to fulfil his dream to renounce so easily. He answered that he had never needed his help. The debate about Vincents victory on the last night he spent at home was relaunched and they went to swim again. Once more, Vincent won the game and, at the same time, his brothers silence.
When he came back to Jeromes house, he had prepared litres and litres of blood and urine and also big stocks of skin dust, hair and other organic substances. He said it was so that Vincent did not lack anything in case he would not be there anymore. Vincent did not seem to understand the meaning of Jeromes words. He was actually announcing his suicide.
Just before the boarding on the spaceship, a last and unexpected urine test was made. Vincent had not brought along any urine clutch. He thought he was lost. When his face appeared on the check screen instead of Jeromes, the identity controller, Lamar, did not seem to be surprised. He pushed on a button which turned the invalid notification into valid. In five work years at Gattaca, Vincent had never recognized under Lamars features his own father. Now very proud of his son, he let him take on board and realize his dream.
The first sentence that appears on the screen at the beginning of the film already gives an idea of the general message of the work: In a not so distant future. Indeed, the general theme is the possible and dangerous consequences of progress in genetics.
In Gattaca, the whole society is ruled by genetics. Even before Vincent is put into his mother arms, a blood test is made in order to know what diseases he is likely to develop, what his personality is going to be like and to estimate his intelligence quotient and his life expectancy. From that moment, his whole life is already planned, he is labelled, definitively categorized. First by his parents, especially when his father refuses to give him his name. It is a sort of rejection of the family without leaving him a chance. And that is what happens with the rest of the society. Because of his genetic code, not any insurance dares to take the risk to protect him so he cannot enter a school and he is condemned to study at home. The same problem is repeated when he applies for a job. It is impossible to get a decent job if your genetic code is not almost perfect. You do not have to prove that you are able, your DNA has to prove it for you.
gattaca (summary and analysis)