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The Life Of David Gale

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Judy Thorburn

The Life Of David Gale

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

“THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE” – DEAD MAN TALKING

Capital punishment is one of the most controversial issues constantly being debated in and out of our justice system.  Like abortion, it is a touchy subject that triggers strong emotions whether for or against.  The Life of David Gale centers on this cause and the means that some activists take to get their message across.

Directed by Alan Parker (Midnight Express, Mississippi Burning) The Life of David Gale is based on a screenplay by Charles Randolph, and has a top notch cast.  Set in Texas (known for having the highest number of executions), Kevin Spacey stars as David Gale, former college professor and anti death penalty activist who has been convicted of rape and murder, and sits on death row awaiting execution in four days.  Kate Winslet  is Bitsey Bloom, an investigative reporter for a New York magazine, with a reputation for protecting her sources, who for $500,000, is given the exclusive rights to three two hour interviews with Gale before he dies.  And, although it appears to be an open and shut case,  Bitsy comes to believe that it’s up to her and intern, Zach (Gabriel Mann) to gather enough evidence to support Gale’s innocence before he is put to death. Gale’s story is told in flashbacks, where he reveals the circumstances that brought him to this point.

Recounted is his days as a brilliant and respected university professor when a sexy, but dangerous student named Berlin (Rhona Mitra) had said she would “do anything” for a good grade. This translated into seducing him to have hard sex with her in the bathroom of a party.  Afterward he is charged with rape, resulting in his wife and son leaving, his career in shambles, and alcohol abuse.  All that is left is his close friend and colleague, Constance Hallaway, head of the staunch anti death penalty group, DeathWatch, whom he turns to for support.  Both are passionate believers that the death penalty is wrong and have made its abolishment the driving force of their lives. But, when Constance is found raped and murdered by asphyxiation,  all the evidence leads to Gale’s arrest and conviction.  What could be more ironic than an anti death penalty activist on death row!

Kevin Spacey gives a controlled and intriguing performance in another one of his movies with a twist ending (he seems to gravitate to those kind of scripts –just think about his screen resume). Kate Winslet is fine as the ace reporter eager to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  This British lass has an American accent down pat. But, it is the lovely Laura Linney, hiding her beauty beneath plain looking Constance, who embodies the idealistic zealot in an emotionally charged performance.

The Life of David Gale is a suspenseful murder mystery thriller that gets you thinking.  Did he do it, or was he framed?  And, if so, by whom?  If he is innocent, is the system to blame for putting him to death? The story becomes a race against time to solve the murder and clear Gale.  It is a  thrilling drama that keeps you guessing with its many twists and turns.  Well written as a whole, it does have some plot devices that are too contrived. Such is the case of Bitsey’s rental car that gets overheated.  It is a set up for a rush to a last minute reprieve and comes across as no surprise, since we are forewarned of this car’s condition from the beginning. However, it  doesn’t lesson the strong impact in the closing frame.

Leaning towards the political left, the provocative script clearly takes a stand against the death penalty.  Conservatives may argue that it is manipulative and one sided. They are right. There is no counterpoint for the pro capital punishment side of the issue.   However, politics notwithstanding, The Life of David Gale is a complex and entertaining piece of filmmaking.  It’s thought provoking premise is sure to stir up opinions and debates.   Whatever the reaction,  it nevertheless succeeds in its EXECUTION – or in better words - as a compelling movie experience with a strong impact.. That’s my opinion.  I have nothing LEFT to say.

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