The Life of David Gale


The Life of David Gale

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 157


Audience Score

User Ratings: 60,884
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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 wife, Sharon (Elizabeth Gast), who had taken a lover in Spain, was usually absent. One night, Gale was seduced by an attractive student from his class, Berlin (Rhona Mitra), who had too much to drink; later, the remorseful student accused Gale of rape. While Gale was eventually cleared of the charges, the negative publicity cost him his career as an educator, and with no job and no wife, Gale turned to drink. When Harraway was found raped and murdered a few years later, Gale was charged with the crime, and convicted despite the best efforts of his well-meaning but ineffectual lawyer Braxton Belyeu (Leon Rippy). Now Gale awaits execution, and less than a week before his date with the fatal injection, Gale agrees to tell his story to Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet), a nervy journalist from a major newsmagazine, who arrives with her assistant, Zack Stemmons (Gabriel Mann). As Bloom discusses the facts of the Harraway murder with Gale, it occurs to her that the details simply don't add up, and soon a mysterious stranger slips evidence to her that suggests Gale has been framed -- leaving Bloom and Stemmons only a few days to solve the mystery and save Gale from the executioner. The Life of David Gale was co-produced by actor Nicolas Cage, who originally commissioned the script and intended to star in the film before prior commitments led him to hand the project over to director Alan Parker.


Critic Reviews for The Life of David Gale

All Critics (157) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (127)

Audience Reviews for The Life of David Gale

  • Jun 29, 2011
    the twist was just idiotic and when someone is investigating the truth surely David Gale would have realised this. playing out like a made for tv movie you won't find anythng overly interesting here.
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • May 26, 2011
    The critic community seemed hell-bound to pin down this movie as one belonging to the trash bag. The story about anti-capital-punishment activist David Gale, deals with an unpleasant issue, kind of an issue that no one really want to know the answer of. The film may have failed in terms of moral grounds in the eyes of its detractors, may be a reason why it has gotten so much bad press. But, this is also the story of a man whose life just went off the rails for all the wrong reasons, who wants to do something for the world before he leaves. In that perspective, this was a decent enough flick or even, I dare say rather inspiring. That being said, the movie is not without it's glitches. A not so challenging role for Kate Winslet considering her abilities, occasionally flawed narrative and an annoying background score which did'nt seem to connect anyway to the premise of the movie.
    Sajin P Super Reviewer
  • Jun 27, 2010
    Although the film definitely could have been better made and the writing could have been better as well, I enjoyed this movie. The main actors are some of my favorites and I thought the story was good, especially the twist at the end.
    Sarah P Super Reviewer
  • Jun 24, 2010
    A disclaimer is in order. This reviewer is ethically and vehemently opposed to the death penalty, and has been for several years. That said, this is an over the top, extremely manipulative film that annoyed on so many levels, that this viewer is forced to admit he hated the story. Yet, because of the incredible acting job by Kate Winslet, as the reporter, Bitsy Bloom, Kevin Spacey as the titular David Gale, and Laura Linney as the murdered activist, Connie Harraway, because of the relentless tension of the script, and the fine job by the supporting actors, he is forced to give it a grudging four stars. What is truly amazing is that this viewer had figured out the "mystery" in the first reel, and still found the tension to be palpable. One other surprise. There is nudity in this film. The surprise is that it isn't Kate who gets naked!
    Mark A Super Reviewer

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