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THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE

This earnest, doleful film comes complete with flash-card intertitles that pant out its themes ("Lust!" "Self-sacrifice!"). Kevin Spacey plays the title character, a University of Texas philosophy professor and anti-death-penalty activist. On death row for raping and murdering a fellow activist (Laura Linney), Gale sells his story to an investigative magazine reporter (Kate Winslet) whose colleagues call her "Mike Wallace with PMS." That line gives Winslet one of the two notes for her character, the other being the teary-eyed discombobulation that comes over her as she races the clock to prove Galeís innocence. One of Galeís books is called Dialogical Exhaustion. If that means running out of things to say, the dialogical exhaustion in The Life of David Gale comes not a moment too soon (not that the film isnít just as clunky when the characters shut up). The script has its weaknesses; the direction by Alan Parker is disastrous. A minor point of interest: this may be the first American major-studio film to feature a lecture on Jacques Lacan (it doesnít help). (130 minutes)

BY CHRIS FUJIWARA

Issue Date: February 20 - 27, 2003
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