Sunday, 8:37 am. Read the paper, now it's time to tell you about a ppv I saw this weekend. Before I name the film, let me say, this film was absolutely savaged by the critics; they hated it and had no trouble labeling it: Corrupt, intellectually bankrupt, morally dishonest, melodramatic sloshing, sanctimonious posturing, overly contrived, hysterical and longwinded. This, a mere sampling of some of the kinder reviews!
That's why there are "real people reviews". Sadly real people often look to the critics to decide for them before seeing something for themselves. While on occasion the critics can save you 9 bucks and major disappointment, more times than not a film loses a ticket sale it rightfully deserved. That being said, I give my "real person" opinion of:
The Life of David Gale
Premise: A popular professor, devoted father, and respected death penalty opponent finds himself (ironically??) on death row for the rape and murder of his close associate and fellow death penalty opponent. (Laura Linney). He has a mere six hours over three days tell his tale to a journalist (Kate Winslet) who quickly realizes his life is in her hands, prior to his scheduled execution on the fourth day. (Or is it)?
Plot contrivances aside, which undermine this very serious and topical political theme, I really liked this film. I think a lot of critics got tripped up because instead of reviewing this movie for what it was, (a thriller, and dramatization) they went ahead and entwined their own personal gut feelings about the death penalty into their "movie" reviews.
I liked the performances. Kevin Spacey gave a fine performance as an very intellectual but flawed man, and completely carried me along for his ride. Linney was unrecognizable, but convincing in her role as friend, confidant and partner in the death penalty trenches, harboring a secret of her own. Some may say Winslet had to "dumb down" to play the journalist, but I prefer to see her performance as truly impartial until she start to figures(?) it out. I liked the way the film was shot and how it looked. Admittedly, the story had some silly contrived roles (the mysterious truck driving cowboy, could have been portrayed far more effectively). David Gales wife seemed to serve NO purpose. She bailed so early in this film, it's hard to believe their was enough devotion in this marriage to spawn a child. (A child who clearly adored and was adored by his dad.) And the glibly ineffectual attorney had me questioning motivation upon his first appearance on the screen.
(As a total aside, in regard to the role of David Gales attorney; If one really wants to believe a film role, the average individual would presume even the worst attorney would have earned enough in his career to have his teeth fixed! My husband and I uttered "nice teeth" at the exact same moment while watching this film).
In all fairness, the most implausible scene was the last shot. Why would a death penalty opponent sign his own death warrant? Perhaps, this gives it all away, but this to me is what most clearly deserves any critical bashing it gets from any and all sources.
My opinions on the death penalty is similar in a fashion to my opinion on abortion, and this is NOT the forum. Unfortunately, I think the critics forgot that when reviewing this film.