Gale’ falls short on suspense, expectations

Kimberly Dupps and Kimberly Dupps

A movie with so much promise turned out to be a dry, utterly predictable film that I could not wait to be over.

“The Life of David Gale” features Kevin Spacey as a philosophy professor that begins a downward spiral: arrested for raping a student, losing his wife, forced out of an organization he loved and being arrested for a murder he said he did not commit.

Four days prior to his execution, he enlists the help of reporter Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet), so he can be remembered for the life he led rather than the crime for which he was convicted.

Over the course of three two-hour interviews, David Gale (Spacey) tells Bloom the story of how he ended up there and his downward spiral — all leading Bloom to the conclusion that he was innocent and had no idea what happened the day his friend, Constance Harraway (Laura Linney), was murdered.

The unravelling of his story is supposed to be dramatic and suspenseful. However, it is easy to figure out who is involved in Constance’s death and in what capacity after the first day of interviews.

The predictability of the movie could have been offset by a stellar performance from Winslet. However, she is over-the-top in her portrayal of a New York magazine journalist. She is the quintessential bitchy journalist, who assumes more than she knows and has an ego the size of Texas.

It could be that I found her character written badly — snobby and unlikable. As a journalist, I know that reporters are not accustomed to fancy food as the script portrays. Journalists do eat at restaurants with pictures of food on the menu.

The writer, Charles Randolph, clearly portrays the anti-death penalty position Gale has in the movie. In any scene where the issue is debated, the coincidences are clearly planned. The state of execution: Texas. The governor talks about Gale’s fuzzy liberalism (remember the 2000 Presidential debates). The movie talks about a large number of executions. While some may find this offensive, I think the implied qualities of the movie governor to George W. Bush added a likeable quality to the movie.

It is not that the movie is all bad. Spacey has a talent for portraying vulnerable, desperate men that despite their innocence have a manipulative side. He easily hides the “secret” of the movie. There is something about Spacey’s eyes that make the audience sympathetic to his situation.

On a bored afternoon, “The Life of David Gale” might be a movie worth considering. However, if you thought the previews looked good, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Grade: D+