Does this even argue anything about the death penalty?
When Texas professor David Gale (Kevin Spacey), an advocate for the elimination of the death penalty, is falsely accused and convicted of the rape and murder of another activist (Laura Linney), he ends up on the state’s notorious death row himself. In a series of flashbacks, Gale tells his story to a young reporter (Kate Winslet) who’s visiting him on death row, leaving her to sort out his guilt or innocence.
The whole film I was expecting it to be another argument on the death penalty, and how it is just soo wrong. However, it just turns out to be an interesting jig-saw puzzle that you can’t steer away from.
The first two thirds of this film are quite riveting, mostly because the plots twists and turns, all come at you right away, without you even knowing. By the end the films twists really do seem to be implausible, and actually kind of stupid, but it was first two thirds that really had me going in the first place.
The cinematography is very ho-hum and certain editing techniques used to link scenes in the present to scenes in the past, where the camera spirals over words like: innocence, love, guilt, hate, are pretentious as hell. These montages are also so grossly out of place that they seem as if they were clipped from an episode of NYPD Blue.
The performances given here by Spacey and Winslet, is what in the end really won me over here. Kevin Spacey gives one of his best performances here, cause the whole film is basically given to him, to act his ass off, and well, he does just that and even more. Kate Winslet, is good as this mean, kind of bitchy reporter, but does give some good emotional scenes, although it may seem she is trying too hard. I wish these two had more scenes together to show that they could build up a great chemistry on screen. But just way too many flashbacks prohibit this.
Consensus: Although it’s plot and message seems so out-of-place by the end, The Life of David Gale, has at least two strong performances from Spacey and Winslet, as well as an interesting first two thirds of a film.