Dr. David Gale (Kevin Spacey), the state of Texas's leading death penalty
abolitionist, is on death row and about to be executed in THE LIFE OF DAVID
GALE, directed by Alan Parker (ANGELA'S ASHES). Top of his Harvard class
and a Rhodes scholar, Gale has been convicted of the brutal rape and murder
of Constance Hallaway (Laura Linney), who used to work with him at Death
Watch, an anti-capital punishment group. With only four days left, Gale is
going to give his only interview since he was arrested to Elizabeth "Bitsey"
Bloom (Kate Winslet), a reporter with a national reputation for shielding
This high concept movie is less a diatribe against the death penalty,
although it does take an unconscionable number of cheap shots against the
practice, than it is a thriller and a mystery. Thanks to fine acting all
around, the movie is thoroughly entertaining, which helps gloss over its
problems. As a thriller, it isn't scary, no matter how many potentially
threatening situations Bitsey gets herself into. And, as a mystery, it
makes a fatal mistake as it early and often telegraphs its one big ending
As time runs out on Bitsey's interviews with Gale, she becomes convinced
that he is innocent, but how is she going to prove it? With some help
coming from out of the blue, she begins to patch together what just might be
the evidence she needs to get a stay of his execution by lethal injection.
Along the way, Parker throws in some completely needless scenes. One of the
most superfluous is one in which the alcoholic Gale wanders the street
babbling about Socrates to passersby who treat Gale like he is invisible.
These meaningless scenes are balanced by several deliciously fun ones, with
the best being those involving a Goth girl who runs a macabre museum at the
house where Constance was murdered.
THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE is a perfect film for a February opening, a time when
viewers are less critical and happy to kick back and enjoy an old fashioned
THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE runs 2:10. It is rated R for "violent images,
nudity, language and sexuality" and would be acceptable for teenagers.
My son Jeffrey, almost 14, gave it *** 1/2, saying enthusiastically that it
was "[darn] good." He liked all of the acting, and he especially enjoyed
the plot's originality.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes