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The Life of David Gale (2003)

  Directed by: Alan Parker
Written by: Charles Randolph
Starring: Laura Linney, Gabriel Mann, Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet
Links: The Life of David Gale on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Book, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on DVD, Buy on Video
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Good movie, badly made" - a review by mino

Now, look, I think of myself as a politically liberal kind of chap. I've been accused of being a rabid leftie loony more than once in my life, let me tell you. And I'm against the death penalty as much as anyone; it's barbaric and stupid and I just don't see the point.

However, narrow-minded though I may be on matters political, I like to think it doesn't cloud my judgement too much when I'm watching a movie. If I'm watching a crappy movie, I'm not going to say it's wonderful just because I agree with the message.

Mostly, The Life Of David Gale is a crappy movie.

The story, and the message, of David Gale is fine. It's not wonderful, but it's fine. Kevin Spacey is the titular character, a university lecturer facing the death penalty for the rape and murder of a colleague (Laura Linney). Kate Winslet is a reporter assigned to interview him in the days leading up to his execution. At first (needless to say; unpredictability is not, at least to start with, this movie's strong point), she's sceptical of Gale's claims of innocence; as the execution draws closer, she's not so sure.

Now, you'll note that above, I said that it's ‘mostly’ a crappy movie. One of the problems with David Gale is that it's not, at all, the movie it's made out to be. From reading the box, or from seeing the trailer, or from reading press about it, you might be forgiven for thinking that it's a Dead Man Walking (1995) kind of piece, dramatic and heart-rending: it is, but it's also not. It's partly that, sure, but it's also a thriller, something which isn't made clear at all: and as the movie draws on, it gets to be more of a thriller and less of a movie about death row itself. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just can come as a bit of a jolt if it's not what you're expecting.

So, what's wrong with David Gale? Well, it's a good story, sure. And the acting is largely fine, including Winslet. However, a couple of things do let the movie down: one, unbelievably, is Kevin Spacey himself. I've long been of the opinion that Spacey is one of the finest actors around these days: unfortunately, I'm at a loss to explain what the hell's going on with his career, because he's producing some dogs. Spacey varies here from mediocre to laughably bad (he's truly awful at playing a drunk, for example), but is never actually good — quite a feat for him. What's up, Kev?

Worse, though, is the fact that the movie is so awkwardly made. The music, the writing, the editing, and (worst of all) the fancy-schmancy eye-candy (like the ‘graffiti’ that covers the screen between the different scenes) serve to make David Gale come across as a clumsy, amateurish effort at filmmaking by someone who's just come out of a ‘make a film in 14 days’-type film school.

David Gale has the potential to be a great film; alas, Spacey's disappointing performance, and direction that's more heavy-handed than that bad guy with the metal arm from Live and Let Die (1973), combine to make a film that's merely ‘OK’.

mino gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 29 Jan 2004

Movie review statistics

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Reader comments

  1. This movie is terrifyng,but also amazing,because it showed what would a man dedicated to some thing do to prove that he's right,no matter the price!

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Roki B on Tue 17 Jan 2006 10:21 #

  2. life of david gale is one of the most exciting and dramatic movies made my holywood. untill i watched it i thought that sapcey made his best in averican beauty but now i strongly doubt.

    http://www.coplace.com/m/life-of-david-gale-the-46469.htm

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from andersson on Tue 09 Oct 2007 05:42 #

  3. Absolutely agree with Andersson! BTW, this is my husband's favorite movie.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Download Movies On-line (http://www.movie2b.com/) on Wed 31 Oct 2007 23:51 #

  4. nice movie
    Alan Parker my fav actor
    i like all movies with him

    Rating given: 7

    A comment from Download Movies (http://www.worldmovs.com) on Sat 26 Jul 2008 13:22 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 8.75 (4 ratings)

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