Rated: R for adult language, strong sexual content, rape, graphic violence.
Genre: Crime Drama
Directed By: Alan Parker
Running Time: 2:10
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 2/15/04
DVD Features:
Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary - 1. Alan Parker - Director
Text/Photo Galleries:
Poster Art


Just to start off this review I have a few words to get off of my chest: "The Life of David Gale" is self-righteous, crude, and very offensive, why? Well, keep reading. "The Life of David Gale" is yet another Hollywood film preaching for a cause; most recently the stinker "John Q" preached about the National Healthcare system, and "The Last Castle" preached about prisoner's right, this film preaches about and against the death penalty and capital punishment. I wouldn't have much of a problem with such a concept if this film orchestrated it the right way without such a ridiculous turn of events in the last segment of the film. Kevin Spacey, whom I often praise, plays the balding and pretty weasly doctor David Gale accused of murder and sentenced to death until he asks reporter Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet) to visit him so he can give her his last words on the murder case before he's sentenced to death because she's been in jail too simply because of contempt in court.

We learn of Gale's efforts in his protests against capital punishment along with his friend Constance (Laura Linney) and his inevitable accusation for her brutal murder. Now, there's a first half of the film that not only makes no sense but completely has no relevance to the story nor does it add material to the core of the plot. We watch as David Gale has an affair with a seductive student (Rhona Mitra) in which she sets him up for accusation for rape, and then we never see her again. This may establish his wrongly accused reputation as a rapist, but what validity does it have in this film? We go into this meaningless and arbitrary opening segment into the film without ever being told what it has to do with the purpose of the plot or what it means to say to the audience.

Again we continue with the character Bitsey's journey to prove Gale is innocent, but then, what happens? We enter into the second half of the film, ah, the second half, the portion that inevitably drives this film down the crapper. As we enter into the second half we watch Gale become ever more smug, his mannerisms resembling more of Spacey's character in "Seven" as he leads Bitsey and her intern partner on the track to the real killer like a faux Hannibal Lecter, and while Spacey is a good actor there's never a true establishment of his character or his intentions nor is there any development or resolution within the entire cast of characters. We're left wondering why everyone is doing what they're doing in the film including Gale who seems to preach throughout the entire story doing one thing and then completely betraying what the audience perceives of his character and doing something completely different, Laura Linney's character who mostly appears in flashbacks during the story has nothing to do in the film despite playing a pivotal role.

She mostly plays herself except with sloppy black hair somewhat symbolizing her frumpy existence as a liberal and abolitionist. You know, I could have and would have felt something for these people had they been even remotely likable or admirable. What's wrong with this is that it manages to portray capital punishment abolitionists not only as melodramatic, but as despicable, self-righteous, under-handed, hypocritical, smug, sleazy-- the list goes on, and not only is it an unfair and inaccurate portrayal of people who are anti-capital punishment but it contradicts the theme supposedly revealing that it's for capitol punishment and supporting people who feel this way when its completely contradictory. On the other side of this lop-sided coin are supporting cast members that have nothing to do in the film whatsoever and are mostly wasted within the self-important message.

I was never sure of this films intentions, and I will never really be sure, but ultimately this manages to offend the same people it seeks to defend, including me with one of the most ridiculous and nonsensical endings that I've ever seen in a movie. There's a large and very important sequence regarding the last moments of the story that not only don't make a lot of sense but completely contradicts and throws everything this film attempts to preach to the audience out the window. I was literally baffled and speechless as I saw the utterly ridiculous and sheerly idiotic finale to the film revealing whether or not the character of David Gale is innocent and the end results are so utterly ridiculous that in the end you realize, as I did, that this is just nothing but pure nonsense dressed as a murder mystery.

This is probably one of the most ridiculous and utterly offensive films I've seen in years. With a self-righteous story, unfair portrayals and unlikable characters, this is an embarrassment.



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