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The Life of David Gale (2003)



Average Rating: 4.2/10
Reviews Counted: 156
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 126

Instead of offering a convincing argument against the death penalty, this implausible, convoluted thriller pounds the viewer over the head with its message.


Average Rating: 4/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 34

Instead of offering a convincing argument against the death penalty, this implausible, convoluted thriller pounds the viewer over the head with its message.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 60,168

My Rating

Movie Info

The mystery of one man's guilt or innocence literally becomes a matter of life and death in this drama. David Gale (Kevin Spacey) was the head of the philosophy department at Austin University and the author of several well-regarded books; he was also an active and visible member of Deathwatch, an anti-capital punishment activist group. One of Gale's best friends was Constance Harraway (Laura Linney), a fellow Deathwatch activist with whom he became especially close, particularly since Gale's


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Charles Randolph

Jul 22, 2003


Universal Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (168) | Top Critics (41) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (126) | DVD (15)

It would take an intellect far superior to mine to explain the rationale -- or, for that matter, the release -- of David Gale.

April 22, 2003 Full Review Source: Slate
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I ended up feeling sorry for Mr. Spacey, Ms. Winslet and Ms. Linney, so contrived was the foolishness in which they found themselves embroiled.

April 4, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Observer | Comment (1)
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Grading on the curve, I give it high marks for trying something different, but somewhat lower ones for entertainment value.

March 6, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Low thrills and high dudgeon are a bad mix.

March 2, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A dazzling mess.

February 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One to add to the list of recent films not worthy of Spacey's talents.

February 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic of the most offensively cheap and concocted 'twist' endings of all time

January 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Junkee

An overripe melodrama -- a time waster.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

The filmmakers work so hard to bewilder and to preach that they give us no opportunity to think clearly about the serious life-and-death issues that the film claims to address.

January 15, 2005 | Comment (1)
Looking Closer

Como suspense, o filme não desaponta. Porém, a ambiguidade moral de seus 'heróis' acaba por transmitir uma mensagem oposta àquela que o filme pretende defender.

June 4, 2004
Cinema em Cena

... [Alan] Parker lures you into the theater, but then you sit down and all he has waiting for you is a whoopee cushion.

January 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

In arguing that calmly and deliberately taking a life can never be justified... it ends up arguing just the opposite. It's bad drama and worse politics.

January 6, 2004 Full Review

The film is so expertly crafted that it becomes an effective thriller. It is not, however, an indictment of the death penalty.

August 1, 2003

It isn't long before we yearn to see David Gale as the poster-boy for deserved capital punishment.

July 16, 2003 Full Review Source: Peterborough This Week

LThe Life of David Gale goes quietly into that good night during the doldrums of February, when studios discard their noble failures. . .

June 5, 2003 Full Review Source:

I appear to be alone in my adoration of this strong film...

May 30, 2003 Full Review Source: Blunt Review
Blunt Review

Dead Man Walking if written by Charlie Kaufman.

May 28, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Snobs
Film Snobs

. When all is said and done, The Life of David Gale is thus only worth about $8.50 on a cheap Tuesday. .

May 18, 2003 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (Australia)
Sunday Times (Australia)

'A pesar de las infundadas críticas en su contra, Alan Parker logra un trabajo estupendamente llevado a la pantalla al que vale mucho la pena echarle un vistazo'

May 12, 2003 Full Review Source: Moviola

Promises an intelligent debate about capital punishment but delivers a predictable thriller, directed with stunning amateurishness by Alan Parker.

March 25, 2003 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY

An evil piece of junk that uses the death penalty as a gimmick for a dumb thriller.

March 19, 2003

Worth seeing for Spacey and Linney but you'll spend more time arguing about the finale than you will about the issue behind it.

March 13, 2003 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

Suffers from Parker's same overindulgence in making points at the expense of making stories.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for The Life of David Gale

i really enjoyed this movie i thought it was very interesting and twist turning with a great storyline and plot.
I liked how the story was focussed on trying to get point across, that innocent people do get murdered unjustly within the death penalty counties of america.
May 29, 2011
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer

Cast: Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney, Gabriel Mann, Rhona Mitra, Leon Rippy, Matt Craven, Jim Beaver, Elizabeth Gast, Cleo King, Constance Jones, Brandy Little, Cindy Waite, Jesse De Luna, Vernon Grote

Director: Alan Parker

Summary: When Texas professor David Gale (Kevin Spacey), an advocate for the elimination of the death penalty, is falsely accused and convicted of the rape and murder of another activist (Laura Linney), he ends up on the state's notorious death row himself. In a series of flashbacks, Gale tells his story to a young reporter (Kate Winslet) who's visiting him on death row, leaving her to sort out his guilt or innocence.

My Thoughts: "This has to be (in my opinion) one of the best suspense films I have seen. It's messy, doesn't really develop the characters that well, but I don't think its needed. It's not telling the story of these people, it's telling the story of the events that have happened in David Gales life that led him to where he's at. Great suspense all the way till the end. Never knew where the story was going and the ending was brilliant. The measures that they went to, to prove their point was extreme, but brilliantly done. It's a smart messy film with great performances by (my fav) Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, and Laura Linney. It's a must see in my opinion, so see it if you haven't."
September 23, 2010

Super Reviewer

"They destroy his life, his work, his memory...and they make him watch."

The Life of David Gale tried very hard to be a thought-provoking movie that raises questions and encourages dialogue about a very important and divisive issue. Instead, it ended up being a preachy train wreck that's likely to bore you no matter what side (if any) you find yourself on in regard to the issue of the death penalty.

There are two plot twist that instantly transformed this from a somewhat watchable mediocre movie (watchable because I'm such a fan of Spacey, Winslet, and Linney) to an absolute train wreck. They're so contrived and absurd that they completey derail the entire film (twice!). Someone should have locked writer Charles Randolph in his house and not let him out until he had replaced the awful second half of The Life of David Gale with something that didn't border on lunacy.

Skip this. Whether you're for or against capital punishment won't change the fact that this is a bad movie.
September 18, 2010

Super Reviewer

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