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The Life of David Gale (2003)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  21 February 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 83,707 users   Metascore: 31/100
Reviews: 419 user | 139 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

A man against capital punishment is accused of murdering a fellow activist and is sent to death row.


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3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Barbara Kreuster
Constance Jones ...
Reporter A.J. Roberts
Lee Ritchey ...
Joe Mullarkey
Motel Waitress
Cindy Waite ...
Jesse De Luna ...
Supervising Guard
Vernon Grote ...
Door Guard


When anti-death-penalty activist David Gale is convicted and condemned to death for the murder of a colleague, reporter Bitsey Bloom sets out to learn the story behind Gale's crime. What she finds challenges her belief in Gale's guilt and, finally, in the justice system. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The crime is clear. The truth is not.


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent images, nudity, language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


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Release Date:

21 February 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Leben des David Gale  »

Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$7,117,225 (USA) (21 February 2003)


$205,747 (South Africa) (13 June 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Noah Truesdale (Jamie Gale) went on to play rugby at Reed College. See more »


When Bitsey Bloom was watching the tape in the motel room before she asks Zack to go re-create the crime scene. A quick short close up of Zack sleeping showed him wearing a watch. Before and after this close up he was not wearing one. See more »


David Gale: [while drunk] Socrates was ugly, Plato was fat, and, um, and Aristotle was a prissy dresser!
See more »


References Halloween (1978) See more »


Written by Lee Hazlewood
Performed by Einstürzende Neubauten
Courtesy of Thirsty Ear Recordings / Some Bizarre, Ltd.
See more »

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User Reviews

I found this to be an excellently executed film in all respects with tight, compelling writing, superb acting, and an ending for which they should employ the old technique of not letting anyone in during the
22 February 2003 | by (Honolulu, HI) – See all my reviews

Don't be put off by one movie critic's assessment (morally dishonest, no stars) of this film - he just didn't "get it." This character driven murder mystery is one of the decade's best! Definitely four stars!

The layered conflicts drive the story forward like a Mack truck careening down the side of a mountain, making the movie seem much shorter than its 130 minutes. Kevin Spacey's compelling portrayal of David Gale, a brilliant, principled man with more than his share of human flaws and bad luck, is excellent and is surely Oscar material.

The story begins four days before Gale's execution in a Texas prison. Gale is finally breaking his years of silence by agreeing to tell his side of the story to news-magazine reporter, Bitsey Bloom. Skeptical that this Death Row inmate is out to convince her, and the world, of his innocence, Bitsey takes the assignment expecting it to be a typical, no-brainer.

Gale's story is told in a series of tightly choreographed flashback sequences, each building in character, motive and momentum toward an exciting and most unexpected conclusion.

The story also puts a very fine point on the debate over the death penalty and gives its audience something to talk & think about on the way home.

Not since "Presumed Innocent" have I been so deliciously unable to predict an ending! It is a pleasure to leave the theater feeling completely happy about having invested the price of my ticket in this movie! It is two hours very well spent.

170 of 233 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Critique from Roger Ebert Congo39
The ending nullifies the entire point the film was trying to make. the-twist
So Gale basically committed...... jami1331
Is this movie pro- or anti- death penalty? ts_flanders
Plot Hole? matheusmagalhaes10
Why did Berlin do what she did? mdnicci
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