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The Life of David Gale (2003)

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

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3,380 ( 292)

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3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

The crime is clear. The truth is not.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

21 February 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Leben des David Gale  »

Box Office

Budget:

$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$19,593,740 (USA) (28 March 2003)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The diner scene on the morning after Bloom and Stemmons arrive in Texas was originally shot at a different diner. During the original shooting, they were hit by a tornado and the cast and crew had to huddle together in the kitchen until the tornado passed overhead. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Bitsey Bloom: Of course he sympathizes with murderers... he is one!
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Connections

References Larry King Live (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

China
(2003)
Written by King Orba (as King Orba), John Remark, Michael Corcoran
Performed by King Orba (as King Orba)
Courtesy of Personal Pleasure Records
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User Reviews

 
It strains sometimes, but the plot and its twists will get you good. Great acting, too!
27 March 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Life of David Gale (2003)

Whether you are pro or anti death penalty, there's not getting past the sensational, brave, and maybe insane elements of this story. Based on fact about a death row inmate who had been famous as a death row protester, the core of the movie is how a young reporter (a convincing Kate Winslet) interviews the inmate (an equally convincing Kevin Spacey) in the days before his scheduled execution. We are gradually shown the backstory through their interviews, and another story builds as the reporter chases down new leads, including missing video evidence. Laura Linney plays an important third lead that starts to throw doubts into everyone's mind, including the audience's.

All of this sounds like a great movie should have come out of it: superb casting and acting, a great story with believable but astounding twists, and a nice tight framework, day by day, with methodical flashbacks. Instead the movie both tries too hard and fumbles some of the key moments. What is clearly dramatic is sometimes made over-dramatic (Winslet running and running and running, or words like "innocent" spinning across the screen between scenes). Other sensationalist add-ons make the movie cheap (seeing a chaingang neatly working along the road just as they drive by). And simple reactions aren't believable (they way characters respond to someone following them, or to other threats). This is important stuff for a movie trying to recreate the truth.

By my guess, the director is the key suspect, though he has a raft of successful films behind him, including the closest echo, Midnight Express (1978), which is about injustice and a prisoner who is extraordinary. But in all his films (that I've seen, which is quite a few, it turns out), there is a feeling of powerful story line carrying the day (Mississippi Burning, Birdy). Parker has also made a series of films tied to contemporary music, from Evita which is fair to The Commitments which is terrific fun, as well as The Wall, which might be his best film in all, though a difficult one. All of these films have a great setting, either musically or geographically.

Here we have only the dull backdrop of conservative Texas (if that's not redundant). And a blazing, heartwrenching story. Which is fair enough as a start. The Life of David Gale is a powerful morality tale, most of all, with some great acting, and many or most people watching will be glad they saw it. All those little flaws fade further and further as you get toward the end.

And then the end, the famous big final twist. That's memorable stuff. Wow.


18 of 23 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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