The Life of David Gale /

Rated: R

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney, Gabriel Mann, Matt Craven 

Directed by: Alan Parker 

Produced by: Alan Parker, Nicolas Cage, Moritz Borman, Guy East, Jeff Levine 

Written by: Charles Randolph 

Distributor: Universal Pictures

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Movie Image
Movie Image

     My opinions may contradict with the basis of ideas that run the premise of The Life of David Gale, but regardless of an individuals feelings, one cannot deny that it is extraordinary drama. Wonderfully built and executed, this is a mysterious film that director Alan Parker will not regret making. While a noticeable flaw appears in its content on occasion, for some reason, this is still simply a picture that no one will be able to resist. There are a number of things that make this fact certain. Remarkable acting, beautiful direction, and swift production – are just a few. This isn’t the type of flick, that I would worship, but it is a highly proficient exercise in cinematic excellence.

      David Gale (Kevin Spacey) is a convicted murderer and rapist, four days shy of his execution. Gale has been proven guilty, by three different courts, but still claims that he is innocent. In a desperately final move to save him, his lawyers hire an acclaimed journalist to interview him, and hopefully prove his innocence. This woman’s name is Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet). Told through flashbacks, during the three sessions that Bitsey has with Gale (the day after their last meet, he will be killed by lethal injection), the convict’s story is told. We view David’s many encounters with Constance Harraway (Laura Linney), the woman that he has supposedly killed, as well as a former fellow death penalty abolitionist. In fact, the reason Gale’s case is getting so much publicity is because of the many movements and debates that he lead, against capital punishment.

     Exactly as it would seem, due to the many big names in the line-up, the acting in The Life of David Gale is top-notch. Spacey’s efforts, subtle and effective, are very profound and emotional. The role of David Gale is not an easy one to play. He is a sad and helpless man, that is claimed to, and often does, utilize aggression to fill for his wanting. Kate Winslet has been deemed “over-emotional” and “hysteric,” in this film, by many critics. But, in my eyes, her performance is outstanding. Winslet’s character, Bitsey, has the presence of a Clarice Starling-type personality; but doesn’t appear to be a rehash, because of screenwriter Charles Randolph’s flawless script. And, lastly, another great performance comes from Laura Linney, as Constance Harraway. Gale’s companion, and supposed victim, Linney is tremendous in each of the flashback-scenes she appears in. The cast in The Life of David Gale is definitely its strong point.

     The direction, and partial production (the entire list of producers adds four other names, including Nicholas Cage), by British veteran Alan Parker, are absolutely phenomenal. Each scene is cut and crafted to perfection. I especially enjoyed the mysteriously unique scene changes Parker utilizes, which exhibit clues, signs, and hints as to how the story might play out. This is not to say that the finale is anything short of unpredictable, however. It is one of the best in recent years. The beautiful shots of the saddened and abandoned face of Mr. Gale are incredible. Another amazing aspect of Parker’s work is the way he assembles contrast in each of the scenes. The light wisps of original music added to some very tight moments are brilliantly ingenious. I am thoroughly amazed by every single project that he has been a part of.

     If there is one obvious flaw that sticks out in The Life of David Gale, it is undone pretentiousness. While the screenplay does an excellent job of resolving all of the conflict, when the credits begin to role, we are still caught up in the vibrant emotions of the characters. This is not an error in the script, but the timing. This film isn’t too long, or too short, it just needs a better sense in pacing. Upon reflection, I am able to absorb all that it had to offer, but not in full depth. I am pleased that I enjoyed The Life of David Gale, but I’m not sure that it fulfilled my high expectations. However, it remains one of the best films in release, at this time.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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