A Matter of Life and Death
The Life of David Gale
Review by Ross Anthony

I'm confused. Is this a propaganda picture? It certainly seems to be. But if it's trying to convince viewers that the death penalty is a bad thing -- well, it does a poor job making its own point.

Sticky and awkward, the film doesn't start to roll until we meet David (Spacey). He's a college professor and political activist - specifically protesting the death penalty. He's interesting, his tribulations compelling, Spacey does a fine job with this character.

But Kate Winslet is less spectacular as the principled reporter and this psychological thriller of a story becomes tedious and in the end, somewhat predictable and lacking in point.

After reading the production notes which were written by the director himself (unusual, but highly respectable), it makes more sense to me why the film left me a bit confused over its political purpose. Director Parker: "Our film is a thriller. It would be hypocritical to pretend otherwise, cognizant as we all are of the commercial demands of contemporary movie business. Perhaps, because of this alone, I still would have made the film. But I would also be remiss in pretending that this was the only reason that I was attracted to this project. Personally I am very much against the death penalty for several reasons ... the writer, is against it because he believes it doesn't work."

  • The Life of David Gale. Copyright © 2003.
  • Starring Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney, Gabriel Mann, Matt Craven, Leon Rippy, Rhona Mitra, Melissa McCarthy, Jim Beaver.
  • Directed by Alan Parker.
  • Screenplay by Charles Randolph.
  • Produced by Alan Paker, Nicolas Cage at Universal/Intermedia.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:04:56 PDT