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The Life of David Gale 2003

A man against capital punishment is accused of murdering a fellow activist and is sent to death row...

Release Date:
February 21, 2003
130 min
Alan Parker
Kevin Spacey, Matt Craven, Gabriel Mann, ...
Drama, Thriller, Crime ...
UK, USA, Germany
English, Spanish

Your rating: 0

Solar rating: 7.2


Imdb rating: 7.5

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Now this is a good movie, just when you think you've figured it all out, it turns out completely different than expected. This makes it all the better and to top all of it, Kevin Spacey is my all-time favorite actor!
A liberal movie tries to make a point--- fails miserably. The suspense was very good. Spacey was very aqward in scenes with his son.
The critics just don't get it. It's just a movie, no message, no nothing. People get a grip and enjoy it for what it is just entertainment.
This would have to be the most dissapointing movie I have seen in a long time. Not because of the poor acting, or the bullet-riddled script, but because of the relatively high expectaions I had placed upon it. Silly me for thinking that Kevin Spacey couldn't go too wrong in his choice of roles, and that Alan Parker could sink lower than the over-rated 'Midnight Express'. Silly, silly me.
'The Life of David Gale' (2003) is a tangled and horribly predicatable mess that requires quite alot of patience. As one critic put it perfectly 'It is not as clever as it thinks it is.'
It follows the story of death-watch activist David Gale, who is now (my God, could it be ironically?) sitting on deathrow for the murder of a close friend and colleage. Enter Kate Winslet as the head-strong reporter who is following the unravelling mystery surrounding the events leading up to - and after - Gale's arrest.
Kate Winslet mearly follows the cues for her character (whose name is Bitsy - could it get any worse????), only just convincing the audience that she is not (contrary to popular belief) a cardboard cut-out. Not even the script could have saved her.
The major problem with this film, as I have mentioned before, is the lack of suspense and plausability it holds. From the opening sequence of Bitsy running down a dirt road, tape in hand, the story and ending of this film becomes clear far early than Parker must have intended. The subtle hints that can be so wonderfully masked by careful directors are flaunted by Parker - it's as if he wants the audience to realise the complexity of the film, before it has even been begun.
This film could have been a great - if only the script hadn't of been so pretencious, and the director not so flambouyant.
Whats with them repeatedly adding new features? I like how you can now rate more than one movie at a time, but the additional lists thing is a bit extra.

Well I've had the flu all weekend, but I'm better now. I'll review the three movies listed above soon.



--The three main actors of "The Life of David Gale" are all superstars and I expected nothing less than great performances out of them. And guess what I got? That's right, they were all great. Kevin Spacey fills David Gale with life, playing the many sides to the character extremely well. Sometimes he's funny, other times he's VERY aggravated, drunk and unlikeable, or even a threatening presence. All the time I was constantly questioning his innocence. Kate Winslet was my favourite of the three, I just love her - she's beautiful and talented, and always guaranteed to deliver a GREAT performance, and I think she was just wonderful as Bitsey (by the way...Bitsey? Who came up with the NAMES for this film!?). For once she doesn't get naked as well (surprising!). Laura Linney was also very impressive as Constance Harraway, I liked the way she played the character's fear of death.

--The ending for this film is usually the thing I see in all the reviews as being the absolute worst thing about this "horrible" movie, but I for one really liked it. Well, I didn't like the final twist, but all the stuff before that was simply incredible suspense. I was hanging on the edge of my seat and for me those final sequences (with the exclusion of the final one) were the film's highlight. I thought the first twist involving Constance and a cowboy was really well played and goes into depth with the many plotlines of the film, and the race for the truth was damn intense!

--I remember in one of my recent classes - I think it was Social Studies or something - my teacher got us thinking about whether it was right or wrong for a person who had murdered someone to be prosecuted. Back then, for me it was a simple black-and-white question, and the answer was easy: yes, of course they should. But after watching this film I may have to reconsider my opinion, because the movie really brought across some interesting points and issues about whether death prosecution is the right way to go. I think one of the writer's goals was to make us think twice about LIFE and DEATH and whether the death penalty is right, and congratulations Charles Randolph - you've succeeded.

--I really loved the music in this film. There was a song in it that I think was called 'Black Crosses' and I just love that song so much - it plays out the end credits and also in the trailer. The score for the film also has a harrowing, suggestive nature.


--The big problem with this film is not the ending or the characters or anything like that, but it's simply the middle section of the film. I'm certain Randolph (the writer, mentioned above) had a strong beginning and ending planned out and all this nifty little twists and turns, but the middle of the film is very weak. There is no narrative flow, some scenes feel very misplaced or even unneeded and after a while watching Kevin Spacey walk around in a drunken frenzy isn't all that great. There are some good points (the David/Constance dynamic is nicely played, as is the separation of David and his son) but overall it was the weakest aspect of the film.

--The final little scene is completely unnecessary and takes away the impact of some of the previous messages and sequences considerably. I didn't HATE it as much as some people, but it was definitely an annoyance. Next time I watch this movie I'll probably just stop the tape before that scene comes on, so I don't have to worry about it so much.


7/10 - I was really hyped up about this movie and I wasn't disappointed. Maybe I expected a little more, but I still really enjoyed the film and I think it is very underrated...what's up with all the critical bashing?


Adaptation (9/10)
American Beauty (10/10)
Dancer In the Dark (9/10)
Holy Smoke (7/10)
Monster's Ball (9/10)
I don't know what the furor is about. I liked this movie. I didn't have to dumb down to understand it.
The Life of David Gale (Alan Parker, 2003)
In the crude, cruel death penalty drama The Life of David Gale, Kevin Spacey plays David Gale, a heralded, hard-drinking psychology professor at an Austin university whose career and marriage unravel after a brief, lewd affair with a sexy young student. Gale was also a vehement anti-death penalty activist who has been convicted of the heinous rape and murder of Constance (Laura Linney), a leukemia-stricken fellow anti-death penalty champion. He now sits ironically on death row in Texas, and three days before his scheduled execution, he decides to tell his story to News magazine reporter Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet), a determined, righteous journalist who is fed up with the sexist remarks she receives from her male colleagues on a daily basis. Gale's long and winding tale unfolds in a series of flashbacks that are introduced with showy montages in which "hot-button" words swirl around the screen.

It's no big surprise that the picture employs plenty of cheap twists to advance its plot, but it's rare for a movie to be as staggeringly contrived, and ineptly handled, as The Life of David Gale. There's a crucial videotape, but of course the whole tape is not found all at once; bits of the tape are found by the journalist at, of course, the most inopportune times. At a debate with a Bushian Texas governor, Gale stumbles on a question any real-life activist would have a ready answer for. There's a man in a cowboy hat who follows Bitsey around in his truck who's the most desperate and obvious kind of desperately obvious foreshadowing. Bitsey is seen griping about her rental car's poor engine, but the comments are purged of any suspense because she's already been seen frantically running from an overheated, broken-down car in the very first shots of the film; you just wish the damned thing would explode already.

No, the big surprise - the worse surprise - is that, by the time it reaches its twisty (and twisted) ending, director Alan Parker, working from a script by Charles Randolph, has turned The Life of David Gale into one of the most pointlessly vicious and heavy-handed movies I've ever seen. I won't reveal the ending, except to say that it's merely pointless, brutal provocation for the sake of provocation. It becomes an overheated muddle, boasting not any sort of real, meaty, dramatic message, just empty shock value.

Kevin Spacey, an amazing, always intriguing actor, works his hardest, alongside talented costars Winslet and Linney, to bring some integrity to this derailed political muckraker, but they are trapped by Parker, a director who tramples his characters and situations in order to shout furiously but unfocusedly in anger at the audience. We never really get a grasp on Parker's own stand on capital punishment, but we do gather that he seems to dislike human life in general.

The movie happens to be set in Texas, which, on a good year, accounts for half the state executions in the entire United States; whose juries convict far more blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities than whites; and some of whose death row inmates may, in fact, be innocent. By exploiting (rather than exploring) these very important, very timely issues for their own trivial storytelling purposes, and by then making that story contrived, overcooked, brutal, and ultimately pointless, the filmmakers commit a heinous cinematic crime. D-
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