“The Life of David Gale” starts of with Bitsy Bloom (Kate Winslet), a reporter for News magazine, sprinting from her over-heating car with a tape in her hand. We are to immediately be put on edge and expect a tale of twists and turns that ultimately brings us to the tape with all the answers.
I apologize but I may have just given away the most edge-of-your-seat moment in this wanna-be thriller. We are taken back in time, three days, to Bloom getting an assignment to interview David Gale (Kevin Spacey) who is three days away from execution. He has refused all interviews until now and gives an account of everything leading up to the supposed murder.
This film is a flashback inside of the initial flashback in order to show the audience that Gale is a death penalty abolitionist and a top professor at his university. After the accusation of the rape of a student he loses his job and his family that plunges him into alcoholism. This causes him to struggle to find some kind of meaning or purpose in his life now that it is seemingly over.
This flashback, showing Gale’s life before the arrest for the murder of Constance (Laura Linney), is told by Gale while in the midst of the interview with Bloom. As the story unfolds, Bloom begins to believe in Gale’s innocence so she sets out to solve the case by piecing together every clue she can. Once a tape is revealed she finds that she must race against the clock in order to save her new friend.
Does that not sound fascinating? Does that not sound like it would be full of intrigue? Sorry to disappoint you, but it is not fascinating or intriguing. In fact, the story can be completely predicted within the first twenty minutes even if you are trying not to predict. Roger Ebert, in his review of the film, said the acting in this was “splendidly done” and I have to disagree with the famous critic. This was done with no more effort than Winslet put into “Titanic,” another wreck of acting. It seemed as though these actors (Spacey who I greatly admire) received the script and decided to deliver with unenthusiastic ambition, as if the dialogue would save the film. They were wrong.
This was a terribly conceived and somewhat obscene political statement. I could not be more disappointed with Spacey’s choice. Linney and Winslet (especially Winslet) we cannot expect much from, so it was not a surprise with their poor performances. But this film tries to move in and out of different twists by revealing tiny snips of the tape until at the end they reveal the last piece of the tape, which was completely ridiculous. It does not make a statement against the death penalty like the filmmakers wished to do; it just makes us aware at how psychotic and bizarre all of those damned activists can be. Do not waste your time.
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Laura Linney and Kate Winslet
Directed By: Alan Parker
What You Need To Know: A wretched and obscene political statement.
FINAL GRADE: D