Friday, 4 September 2015

"The Life of David Gale" (2003)



Directed by Alan Parker. David Gale (Kevin Spacey), a college professor and long-time activist against capital punishment, has been sentenced to death for raping and killing a fellow capital punishment opponent. Four days prior to his execution, reporter Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet) has been asked to interview him. Over three days Gale proves his innocence through a series of lengthy flashbacks.  Laura Linney also co-stars.

I sort of randomly decided to watch this film yesterday without really knowing anything about it other than Kate Winslet and Kevin Spacey were in it, so I said ok let’s see what it’s like. But oh it was so stressful to watch. And heart breaking. I was literally at the edge of my seat towards the end. Not figuratively speaking, literally the edge of my seat with the tension. That’s only ever happened to me for one other movie and that was ‘Ghost’! I get far too engrossed in films…

I don’t regret watching it but I couldn’t sleep at all last night after it. I was sure I’d be having nightmares after the video tape scenes. They were talking about the murder and the rape but I didn’t think they’d show it and then they did so I got a bit of a land. It’s horrible. But that wasn’t why I couldn’t sleep. Ok it was part of it, but…This film just makes you think. I suppose much of its focus is around the death penalty and whether or not the punishment of execution is right or wrong. There was one scene in which a reporter was discussing the upcoming execution of David Gale and people were cheering. I don’t understand how someone can get so much enjoyment over someone’s death, no matter how evil a thing they may or may not have done. You hear of events like this happening some time back in history but you don’t think too much on it because you assume people have better morals today. After watching this I’m not sure has anything really changed. I just found it baffling. What kind of world do we really live in? Like Gale says, "No one sees a person when they look through that glass, they see a murderer and a rapist three days shy of his execution". But it’s not all about the death penalty either. This is merely one aspect. There is so much more to this film. It makes you think about your own beliefs as a person, how you would like to be remembered after you’re gone, the kind of life you lead, and most importantly the choices everyone makes. It also shows how powerful a person's belief can be.

Both Kate Winslet and Kevin Spacey are, needless to say, amazing actors. Unbelievable. I love when I get sucked into a film and really care about the characters. And these actors have a huge knack for that. Watching Kate Winslet’s face as she viewed the video tape was just…I wanted to cry with her. And she pulls off an American accent extremely well too. Kevin Spacey’s acting in this is just incredible. One of his best roles perhaps.

This is why I’m so torn between praising the film, or feeling completely infuriated by the whole thing. The story, while in my opinion was really well written, keeping you guessing and revealing its twists and turns at appropriate paces, is horrifyingly frustrating. Not to give too much away, but I found the ending both gauling and so unexpected. And this is the reason why I couldn’t sleep after watching it. I just kept going over and over it. Just...why? I can't fathom it.

The editing in the film is perfect. The use of inter-cutting is a huge aspect throughout and works exceedingly well. Particularly in the climatic scenes. The tension, as I’ve said, was almost unbearable and it was down to the use of inter-cutting as well as the accompanying music.

I thought it was a tough watch. I don't know if everyone will, at least quite as much! Other reviews seem to be quite mixed. I don't know why though because it is an amazing film. It will keep surprising you right until the credits roll! That is why my advice is don’t read too many reviews or look up too much about it. Just go watch it and have the experience yourself!


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