For Questionable Taste Theatre this week, I present a movie that had only two things wrong with it: GATTACA.

(Those two things are Ethan Hawke. He’s so bad I counted him twice.)

Nutshell: In the near future, when genetic modification of embryos is standard, Ethan Hawke is born as a lumbering “god-child” with no job prospects. Sick of his life (wouldn’t you be if you were Ethan Hawke?), he goes underground and assumes the identity of Jude Law, who at this point was actually someone whose life you’d want to have. Will he make it into space? Will he sound like he even cares?

“That piece can only be played with twelve.”

So, if you can ignore Ethan Hawke, this movie is pretty sweet. Uma Thurman is not my favorite actress ever, but if Aryan is your thing she fits the bill, and back in 1997 I’m pretty sure she was still popular. I mean, this movie was made so long ago that Jude Law was a big casting discovery. He was an ACTOR! Now he’s a skeezy, balding smoker who diddles the nannies. Oh, Jude.

(Answer to the question nobody asked: perfect casting is Cate Blanchett. On the other hand, in 1997 nobody outside of Australia knew who she was yet.)

On the other other hand, this movie was where Ethan and Uma met. Anyone who saw the movie knew what was going on – the sparks were just flying!

…look at those sparks fly.

You know who is a better actor than Ethan Hawke? Jude Law. (For the love of all that’s holy, who cast Ethan Hawke? Was there no one else in the world who looked remotely like Jude Law?)

Just a reminder that Jude Law used to look good. Also, a reminder that this movie is gorgeously shot.

You know who else is a better actor than Ethan Hawke? The spindly little kids that played young-Ethan and young-asshole-brother. He grew up to become asshole-brother-I-actually-liked-more-because-he-was-more-interesting-and-also-because-Ethan-Hawke-annoys-the-crap-out-of-me.

Let the record show that at least one of these young men didn’t save anything for the trip back.

A note on this movie (because unlike most of the movies I like, this one stands up to a little analysis): this movie is my favorite kind of science fiction, in which the science is only a backdrop to character. You’ll notice there’s about two scenes in the space station, and in one of them Ethan Hawke is told he does a good job of putting a flight plan together, and in the other one he’s walking around looking vaguely worried. And why? Because the science isn’t the point.

The point is that Ethan Hawke and Jude Law were just using the script as a subtext playground.

Jerome (Jude) to Ethan: “Wanna go dancing?”

I really love the dark humor in this movie. Though why you’d want to dance with Ethan Hawke is beyond me.

Speaking of Ethan Hawke, you know something else I hated in this movie? The voiceover. Let the audience figure stuff out as it happens! And if they don’t, fuck ’em. The movie really suffered from this pattern:

[Really good scene of dialogue that ends with the words “I’ll need to look up a couple of things.”]

Ethan: “But a couple of things I couldn’t know were; how would a society that allows people to genetically modify their children and thus prepare them for a life of physical hyperjudgement react to an imposter in their midst, and secondly, what was for dinner.”

You can just hear the narrative coming to a screeching halt every time this happens. The most egregious use of this is during the last scene, but I’ll get to that.

Did I mention this movie is gorgeously shot?

I also appreciate the production design, which is a sleeker version of the 1940s and 50s; it looks convincingly futuristic without suffering from the kind of Logan’s Run syndrome that turns a bunch of actors into marshmallows with zippers and legs. When they go to the club, he wears a sharp suit and she wears a sort-of-shiny dress. It looked good in 1997, and it still looks good. Yay, subtle future!

Look at Uma in that picture, by the way. She’s so happy. You know why? She hadn’t married Ethan Hawke yet.

Plus, I bet she was coming off the high of filming this scene:

I really loved this scene. It demonstrated that she was cool under pressure, that he was a little bit of a bastard but absolutely committed to helping Vincent make it all the way, and that there’s nothing more fun than stonewalling the fuzz.

You know who I cared about? Them.

You know who I didn’t care about? Imogen Poots.

But quibbles aside, this movie really affected me, and it continues to affect me any time I’m in a mood to watch Ethan Hawke wander around for two hours in the middle of an otherwise-amazing movie. I can usually hold it together until the ending, but as soon as the doctor tells Ethan he’d better hurry if he’s going to make his flight, I tear up, and then as soon as we cut to Jerome putting on his medal I lose my shit, and then as soon as Ethan starts his inane voiceover at the end I miraculously recover my snark, because – worst ending voiceover IN A LONG TIME. (One of the best end-of-movie instrumentals in a long time, incidentally, but that’s a post for another day.)

I checked to make sure this was the ending of the movie and not some Evanescence fanvid, but since I didn’t feel like sobbing like a humungous weenie, I didn’t watch the whole thing. If there are dancing bananas in the middle, sorry.