The Life of David Gale
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)
This is one of those movies or
should I say, films, that see themselves as just a little above the average
hollywood flick. You know what I mean. The trailer starts out, ``...starring
two-time Academy Award winner (The
Usual Suspects & American
Beauty), Kevin Spacey, three-time Academy Award nominee (Sense
and Sensibility, Titanic
& Iris), Kate Winslet,
and Academy Award nominee (You
Can Count on Me), Laura Linney, and directed by two-time Academy Award
nominee (Midnight Express
& Mississippi Burning)
Alan Parker. All this firepower and a very timely plot
should make for a good movie but The Life of David Gale is only
partially successful. One problem is that you feel like you've seen
this a million times before: a man on Death Row has only three days
to prove his innocence. Why do they always wait until there's only
three days left? Anyway, the condemned man (Kevin Spacey) is a former
University of Texas professor. He was convicted of murdering his
best friend and fellow professor (Laura Linney). He tells his story
to a reporter (Kate Winslet) in the hopes that she will find out the truth.
The twist that is supposed to make this plot so interesting is that Spacey's character is the leading anti-death-penalty advocate in Texas and now he is on Death Row. It's just too bad for The Life of David Gale that irony is dead. The other thing that is supposed to make this an exciting, enthralling movie is the surprise shock ending. Well, I guessed the ending 10 minutes into the movie. It was so easy to guess because the scene that sets it up also gives it away.
The most entertaining thing for me, as a professor at a State University, one state over from Texas, is the portrayal of university life in The Life of David Gale. First, there is Spacey's class, where he is seen talking to a large group of adoring students. It isn't the adoring part that bothered me, I just wondered why so many of them were awake. Oh and the other thing is the beautiful student (Rhona Mitra) who comes up to him after class and utters the line, ``Is there anything I can do, to get an A?" Ok, she utters the line ironically but like I said, irony is dead. Then, there is Laura Linney who naturally looks like your average female professor. But in The Life of David Gale, she is made up to look like Virginia Woolf. Did I mention the party? Spacey attends what I can only assume is a department party. I just wish that my department had parties like that!
That this movie is actually watchable and reasonably entertaining is a testament to the cast who are able to take some pretty inane lines of dialogue and make them sound pretty good. Spacey is great although he shouldn't take any more roles like this. Enough!
Winslet and Linney are a joy to watch. They are making interesting choices for their movie roles, well, maybe not this one. So, I don't know. The Life of David Gale is fascinating to watch in the way that a train wreck is.