The Life of David Gale (2003)


“The Life of David Gale” is yet another Hollywood film preaching for a cause. 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. “The Life of David Gale” portrays capital punishment abolitionists not only as melodramatic, but as despicable, self-righteous, under-handed, hypocritical, smug, and sleazy. 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 it’s completely contradictory.

Kevin Spacey 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. The first half of the film makes no sense and 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. The second half inevitably drives this film down the crapper. 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 that mostly appears in flashbacks during the story has nothing to do in the film despite except play a horrendously stupid plot device. Ultimately “The Life of David Gale” manages to offend the same people it seeks to defend with the most ridiculous and nonsensical endings that I’ve ever seen.