Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet's power problems.
Life is comprised of infinite possibilities; some known, others a mystery and destined to remain so. And what of the vast unknown, the realms beyond which knowledge has no established boundaries or parameters? Who is to say what exists or what is possible? Valid questions, all of which are raised and explored in the story of a particular individual's personal journey, a strange and dramatic odyssey that defies facts and logic, in `K-PAX,' directed by Iain Softley, and starring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges. In the wake of an incident in New York's Central Station, a man named Prot (Spacey) is transported to a psychiatric hospital in Manhattan, where he is delivered into the care of Dr. Mark Powell (Bridges), who attempts to uncover the truth about his patient, who claims to be from the distant planet K-PAX. It quickly becomes a challenge for Dr. Powell, as Prot, with his calm, direct, forthcoming manner and a propensity for produce (he eats bananas peels and all, and Red Delicious Apples are his favorites) is quite convincing. But it's Powell's job, as well as his nature, to be skeptical. Prot's claims, however, remain intact and stand up even under the most intense probing and the watchful eye of Dr. Powell, who finds himself in something of a quandary-- Prot even tells him the exact date and time that he will depart for K-PAX, a scheduled return trip that allows Powell but a short time to sort it all out. And Powell just can't seem to get his mind around the idea that he is dealing with a real alien being; and it's something he is going to have to resolve quickly, if he is ever going to know the truth. And he has to know. The truth, after all, is the only thing that is going to set him free in his own mind.
Softley has created and delivered a sensitive, thought-provoking film that challenges the viewer by sustaining the mystery surrounding Prot while forcing you to reflect upon your own concepts of what is, in fact, possible. And as you never know for sure about Prot until the denouement, you are able to identify with Powell, seeing the situation from his point of view and trying to solve the riddle right along with him. Softley creates an atmosphere of wonder and a real sense of being confronted with something that is truly unique as the story unfolds and you begin to realize that Prot just may be what he says he is. And in the context of the reality to which the film is disposed, it's an engrossing matter to try to wrap your mind around. How do you react when all of the evidence is contrary to the physical limitations we've set for ourselves? While at the heart of the film there is a resounding depth of humanity that is evident, not only in Prot, but in Dr. Powell, as well. All of which makes for an extremely engaging and gripping drama.
As we've come to expect, Kevin Spacey gives a brilliant performance as Prot, presenting his character from the inside out, emotionally deep and physically convincing at the same time. This is a unique individual, and Spacey brings him to life with care and the ability to share those moments that are particularly revealing, which adds to the believability of the character and the credibility of the story itself. For this film to work, it is essential that we believe who and what Prot is; we do, and it does. Spacey simply pulls it off magnificently. It's a memorable performance, from which evolves a character that will stay with you for a long, long time.
Jeff Bridges, meanwhile, emerges on equal footing with Spacey, adeptly making a very real person of Dr. Powell. It's a fairly straightforward role, and the challenge for Bridges was to take this very normal and ordinary character and make him unique in his own right, which, opposite the character of Prot was no small task. And, again, for this film to work it was necessary for Bridges to rise to the occasion. And, with exceptional skill and being the consummate professional that he is, he succeeds without question. Bridges infuses Powell with an underlying complexity, and is so giving in his performance, that it makes the interaction between Powell and Prot vibrant, and at times intense. It's a demonstration of two of the finest actors in the business doing what they do best, creating a dynamic that is alive and inspiring. It's a great job by Bridges, who never attempts to steal the spotlight from Prot, which serves to raise the level of the film to an even higher notch.
The supporting cast includes Mary McCormack (Rachel), Alfre Woodard (Dr. Villers), Ajay Naidu (Dr. Naidiu), Vincent Laresca (Navarro), Kimberly Scott (Joyce), Conchata Ferrell (Betty) and Saul Williams (Ernie). An entertaining, emotionally involving film, `K-PAX' is a dissertation on possibilities, as well as an examination of the ever evolving complexities of the human condition. It's a film that demands an open mind and rewards those who are able to approach it on it's own terms and embrace it. In the end, it makes you realize just how real K-PAX is; and it makes you appreciate Prot's journey, and just how much we all share and have in common with those around us, human or alien. And it may just make you reflect upon your own journey-- where you've been and where you're going. And that's the magic of the movies. I rate this one 10/10.
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