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The Life of David Gale

(an extra star was given for the multiple sex scenes w/Spacey btw)
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Laura Linney, Kate Winslet, Gabriel Mann, Rhona Mitra, Matt Craven and Leon Rippy
Directed by: Alan Parker
Rated: R
Kevin Spacey Interviewed HERE

 

The Life of David Gale is a wonderfully intelligent roller coaster of political twists and thrilling turns that is as powerful as it is clever. It's not just the impeccable performances by the likes of Laura Linney, Kate Winslet and Kevin Spacey that rivet you to the theater seat, but also the screenplay that firmly manages to entertain without getting up on a soapbox about its subject, the death penalty. No, The Life of David Gale is ultimately simply about the people you're introduced to, not its political veneer. Trust me.

Story goes …David Gale (Kevin Spacey) is a regular Joe. Well, he's also a bit brilliant and has a nice charisma about him, but he's just a well-spoken professor at a college. He is however very irregular off campus. His passion lies in saving people from death row. Gale's adamantly opposed to putting citizens to death for their crimes. In fact he frequently comes to fisticuffs in fluid verbal sparing matches with the state's governor on behalf of the anti-death organization to which he belongs, Death Watch.

Lucky for David he's plum situated himself in the human slaughtering capitol of America…. Texas. He knows he's been given the gift of presence and he is all for using this talent for the cause. He loves to debate with Texas' less than consoling politicians. Needless to say, they are none too crazy about him.

But, even more passionate about the wrong facing death row inmates is David's best friend, Constance (Laura Linney). And as we'll learn, it's this common drive in the pair that ultimately unites them more intimately than one could have ever fathomed.

See, Gale's life starts to unravel, the way things sometimes domino in life. Gale is first accused of raping a student, then his wife leaves with his beloved son, then he is dismissed from his post as professor and finally the Death Watch foundation feels David's accused crime is tarnishing their image and they also give him the dirty side of a cowboy's boot. It's a tough month for the guy, and it is Constance that stands by his side.

David starts to drink - heavy - and falls into the abyss of dispair…Constance entrusts the branded Gale, takes him in and remains a true friend even with all his faults.

Then she ends up brutally raped and murdered herself and David is sentenced to die for her death.

Odd a man so against the death penalty should himself end up on cannery row huh? Hmm. Gale is just days away from his own death at the hands of his government when we meet him.

He has granted top investigative reporter, Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet) an exclusive "last" interview. The once proud man and father starts to unthread his story and unravel what Bitsey starts to believe may be a deep rooted conspiracy against the man. She agrees it's a bit melodramatic to find the state's number one opposer of the death penalty presently next in line to die...

Whoa. You getting the idea? This is original Altoid Mint© intense folks!

Mega-talent Laura Linney as the driven Constance virtually steals her scenes from uber-talent (and manly man) Kevin Spacey. Laura is just remarkable - as always. But here, she truly disappears and "Constance" has your heart from the very first frame she graces. I think it's her best performance to date. Hopefully she'll go the route of Julianne Moore and she'll be in eight movies in a year - I know I wont mind.

Kate Winslet is a fave of mine. I adore her choices. I own just about everything she's done - yes even Holy Smoke (there's one on every great's resume). Here Kate nails the ambiguous journalist that starts to unwrap our lovely gift from the story. She's a feisty (hate that word but it's apropos here) chickbabe that also learns a valuable lesson about car maintenance. No. She learns things are not always what you think-or are thought to think.

Then there's that wonderful fella Kevin Spacey as resolved David Gale. Dear god is Spacey the finest walking actor around or what? Yeah, yeah, I'm smitten squared but he again tops, no let me reword that, layers himself. The range Kevschnitzelbooboo must personify in Gale is immense and intense. And on his gorgeous adorably broad shoulders rests the crux of the story. Natch, Kev's use to it and unfolds his hand like the poker-faced virtuoso he is. Purrfection.

There also a muffin of studom alert on an oddly placed character, Zack. Zack is played by a yummy treat of talent named Gabriel "Gabe" Mann. Keep your eyes out for this one…

I had a wee problem with some of the blatant foreshadowing …but it certainly didn't effect the affect of the film. The ride is glorious and all involved from the set design, to the cinematography, to the subtle soundtrack (reviewed here) manipulated your senses without whacking you upside the head. The team left you walking out of the theater in a genuine awe. Bravo to director Alan Parker for keeping us on-the-edge through out…the way a thriller should.

Snack recommendation: Pancakes with strawberries, whip cream, and shaved chocolate.

 


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