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Film Review: “The Life of David Gale” (2003)


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Directed by: Alan Parker

Written by: Charles Randolph

Produced by: AlanParker, Nicolas Cage

Cast: Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney, Gabriel Mann, Matt Craven, Leon Rippy, Rhona Mitra, Melissa McCarthy, Jim Beaver

 

“A truly magnificent movie with totally unpredictable endings.”

Synopsis: David Gale – the man who tried to live according to his principles, but in a bizarre twist of fate, this devoted father, popular professor, and outspoken opponent of the death penalty would be on death row for the murder of his dearest friend and activist Constance Harravey (Laura Linney). Three days before the execution of the sentence Gale agrees to give an interview to a reporter Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet).

But the reporter soon realizes that her participation in this case is not limited to one interview and that a human life is in her hands. Ignoring her own safety, Bitsey begins an investigation into the terrible events that surrounded the death of Constance.

The story of David Gale`s life begins four days before his execution in a Texas prison.

David (Kevin Spacey) is finally breaking his years of silence by agreeing to tell his version of the story to news-magazine reporter, Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet). When Bitsey takes this assignment, she could not have imagined that this task would turn out to be a fight for the life of David Gale. But Bitsey`s boss does not want her to interview him alone, unless she will work with a trainee- Zack played by Gabriel Mann (Revenge).

The story is told in a series of tightly choreographed flashback sequences, starting with the student, Berlin, who had accused Gale of rape, simply as revenge for his refusal to give her a better grade. Even though Berlin has apologized for the false rape accusation, the damage has already been done, and his reputation, family, career and marriage are destroyed.

Constance Harraway (Laura Linney), a fellow DeathWatch activist, is a close friend of Gale who comforts him after his life falls apart. They keep working together to stop the death penalty. Both David and Constance try to convince the Governor that the capital punishment system in this country is not working anymore. But, if they had absolute proof that the governor had executed an innocent man, then their protest would work and they could save hundreds of lives. And what to do if they are not certain who is innocent and who is not?

Bitsey Bloom ideally played by Kate Winslet is a journalist from a major news magazine known for her ability to keep secrets and protect her sources. She does not really believe that David Gale is innocent though. But this was in the beginning of the story. Soon after, she will understand that she is the only hope for him to prove his innocence. Kate Winslet does a tremendous job playing Bitsey Bloom. Most of her scenes were emotionally packed, because she believes that the story is not complete, and that maybe she can help Gale escape the execution. Kate Winslet flawlessly pulls off an American accent throughout the entire film. Kate Winslet`s tone of voice and minute expressions reveal a dynamic change in her personality from the beginning until the end, when she leaves Texas. The scene when Zack and Bitsey are re-creating Constance’s death is priceless.

The script was extremely powerful. It had absolutely no weak moments. Each actor was ideally selected for their roles. Spacey`s role as David Gale, I am sure, was one of the best in his career. But when it comes to Spacey, he always does a great job completely disappearing in his role. Alan Parker directed so many dissimilar movies such as Evita, Midnight Express, Bugsy Malone and Mississippi Burning. And imagine, after having all those films Alan Parker comes out with another masterpiece, “The Life of David Gale.”

The Life of David Gale is a truly remarkable film with a mind-blowing ending; compelling, moving, dynamic and genuinely unpredictable. This movie has two important things: the plot and the characters. Once you see this movie you will never forget it.

 

 

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