Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1997. Columbia Pictures, Jersey Films. Screenplay by Andrew Niccol. Cinematography by Slawomir Idziak. Produced by Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher. Music by Michael Nyman. Production Design by Jan Roelfs. Costume Design by Colleen Atwood. Film Editing by Lisa Zeno Churgin.
Ethan Hawke plays a young man in a futuristic world where parents have the option to biologically engineer their children to be genetically superior to all others. Whereas his brother was born through this process, Hawke was naturally conceived and born without interference, leaving him with a weak heart and short life span; however, his dream is to be an astronaut, and he will do anything to achieve it. The chance comes in the form of genetically-superb Jude Law, a wheelchair-bound athlete who trades his identity with Hawke’s so that the boy can get a job working at the aerospace engineering company where he was once a cleaning man. Not that it’s that easy; the company monitors its employees with constant samplings of their blood cells, so when a murder takes place in the company, Hawke can’t even leave behind a stray hair or dead skin without possibly revealing his true identity. Uma Thurman does well with a thankless role as the love interest in the company, one who doesn’t have enough to do with the plot but is an interesting character all the same. The photography is stunning, and Jan Roelf’s production design truly evokes an otherworldliness that is at the same time futuristic and an idealized post-war prosperity 1950s (an atmosphere Niccol again evoked with his script for The Truman Show a year later).
Academy Award Nomination: Best Art Direction
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Original Score