This elaborately mounted, splendidly acted drama takes a clearly unambiguous anti-death penalty stance, but it doesn’t sacrifice entertainment value to do so. Unusually gripping and wryly ironic, The Life of David Gale makes no bones about its ideological bent, and while one might argue with its premise, there’s no disputing the passion with which every frame is suffused. Kevin Spacey, contributing a typically colorful performance, plays liberal activist David Gale, a crusader against capital punishment who finds himself on death row, awaiting execution for a murder he swears he didn’t commit. Skeptical journalist Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet at her best), assigned to interview Gale, becomes convinced that he’s innocent and attempts to uncover the real murderer. Laura Linney, too rarely seen in mainstream fare, is absolutely sensational as the victim, a fellow activist who harbors a tragic secret. Charles Randolph’s script teems with timeworn plot devices that are at least partially rejuvenated by director Alan Parker (The Commitments); at some points the movie plays like a fairly conventional albeit suspenseful murder mystery, while at others it plays like ham-handed social commentary. Parker never quite gets the tone right, but he makes certain that the film’s abhorrence of capital punishment shines through in virtually every scene. He stacks the deck somewhat, and several plot twists reek of hoary old melodrama, but by and large, this deeply heartfelt and histrionically ostentatious movie succeeds in grabbing its viewers by the throat and holding them riveted to their seats until the breathtaking climax unfolds. A vibrant example of "message" filmmaking, David Gale will enthrall and entertain even those viewers who disagree with its point of view.
14.99 In Stock
Alan Parker's thriller The Life of David Gale comes to DVD with a widescreen anamorphic transfer that preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. English, Spanish, and French soundtracks are rendered in Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles are accessible in Spanish and French, and the English soundtrack is closed-captioned. Supplemental materials include a commentary track in which Parker discusses his pride in the project, his appreciation for the actors' hard work, his respect for the screenwriter's vision, and relates a handful of anecdotes on problems that sprang up during production. Featurettes on the making of the film, as well as on the death penalty are pedestrian at best. Deleted scenes with optional director commentary round out this solid release of a box-office dud from Universal.
Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
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