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"THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE"
(2003) (Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Extreme Minor *Heavy Heavy Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None Moderate None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Moderate Moderate Heavy Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Dramatic Thriller: A reporter interviews a professor and death penalty opponent who's now on death row for raping and murdering a colleague.
PLOT:
Elizabeth "Bitsey" Bloom (KATE WINSLET) is a magazine news reporter who's been called upon to interview death row inmate David Gale (KEVIN SPACEY). Set to die via lethal injection at the end of the week, the former philosophy professor and his attorney, Braxton Belyeu (LEON RIPPY), have personally selected Bitsey for what will amount to three, two-hour sessions.

Considering that he's never given an interview regarding his conviction of raping and murdering his colleague and fellow anti-death penalty advocate, Constance Harraway (LAURA LINNEY), Bitsey takes the assignment. She's not happy, however, that an intern, Zack Stemmons (GABRIEL MANN), is sent along with her, but already has her mind set that Gale is guilty and deserves to die.

When she meets him and he recounts his story, however, she soon begins to change her mind. Over the course of three days and through a series of flashbacks, Gale tells her about his troubled marriage to Sharon (ELIZABETH GAST) but loving relationship with their son, Jamie (NOAH TRUESDALE). She also learns of his drinking problem and a brief and drunken tryst with one of his students, Berlin (RHONA MITRA). That then turned into an allegation of rape which sent his life into a downward spiral, eventually leading to him being charged with the crimes against Constance.

With time running out and a shadowy figure, Dusty Wright (MATT CRAVEN), trailing their every move, Bitsey and Zack must figure out the truth about what occurred to Constance, whether Gale was involved and do so all before he's executed.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of dramatic thrillers and/or anyone in the cast or are interested in subject matter such as the death penalty, they might be interested in seeing it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For violent images, nudity, language and sexuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KEVIN SPACEY plays a professor and death penalty opponent who finds himself on death row for the rape and murder of a colleague. He requests that Bitsey interview him over his last few days during which we see flashbacks of earlier times when he was an alcoholic, had sex with several women (including a former student), and saw his life fall apart for various reasons.
  • KATE WINSLET plays a magazine reporter who gets the exclusive interview with Gale through which she comes to think that he's innocent and then races against time to figure out how to prove that. She uses strong profanity.
  • LAURA LINNEY plays Gale's fellow professor and anti death penalty activist who has leukemia and sleeps with Gale. She also uses strong profanity.
  • GABRIEL MANN plays an intern assigned to work with Bitsey during Gale's interviews. He smokes and uses strong profanity.
  • MATT CRAVEN plays an old friend of Constance's and fellow activist who seems to be trailing Bitsey and Zack.
  • RHONA MITRA plays one of Gale's students who seduces him while he's drunk and then claimed he raped her. She also uses strong profanity.
  • LEON RIPPY plays Gale's attorney who's working on his capital punishment case.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 17 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Various instances of sexually related dialogue are present, while two encounters are seen with movement, partial nudity and related sounds. Repeated sights of nonsexual nudity (breasts and butt regarding a dying and/or dead woman on the floor) are also seen.

    Violence consists of footage of what looks like a snuff film (a cuffed, nude women with a plastic bag over her head) and that scene and other moments might be unsettling, tense or suspenseful to some viewers. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while thematic issues involve capital punishment, allegations of rape and leukemia.

    Various characters smoke and/or drink, with one being noted as an alcoholic and seen drinking and/or drunk on many occasions. Meanwhile, some imitative behavior and tense family moments are also present. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • We see people drinking through the course of a party, including Gale, who's later seen drunk, and Berlin, who seduces him while both are drunk.
  • A woman states that Gale drank Scotch religiously.
  • We see a bottle of liquor on Gale's desk and see him drink some of it from a small cup.
  • Gale and another man have drinks. The other man says that it's not because of Gale's alcohol problem that he can't hire him (and says it's nice not to have someone with a Prozac problem).
  • Gale is drunk and rambling as he walks down a street (he also carries a bottle).
  • Gale pours more liquor for himself and drinks it.
  • Gale drinks with his lawyer in a bar and asks for another. His lawyer says he needs to get clean if he wants to see his son.
  • We then see Gale at an AA meeting.
  • Gale is drunk again and we see a bottle sitting atop the pay phone he's using.
  • We see Gale asleep or passed out in his car where there's also a bottle of liquor.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see fingernails scrape the side of a man's body (with resultant red marks) during sex.
  • We see some bruises on a woman's body (that we later see as a dead body, but without blood or gore).
  • We see a capital punishment photo that shows what looks like blood on a man's shirt.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Viewers may not like the way various characters behave or think regarding the death penalty (on either side of the issue). The same might hold true for some upon hearing that Bitsey went to jail rather than disclose contact information regarding a kiddie porn case.
  • A female student seduces her drunken professor and then later claims that he raped her.
  • Several characters conspire to a manipulative and deadly ploy to further their cause.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" might be unsettling to some viewers.
  • We briefly see a photo of a dead, nude woman with a bag tied around her head and her hands cuffed behind her back.
  • As Bitsey waits by her broken down car at night, an old pickup truck slowly pulls up and doesn't leave until Zack comes out of the restroom.
  • We see the mysterious but unidentifiable character in the pickup truck watching Bitsey and Zack.
  • Gale suddenly finds Constance lying on the floor unconscious and we then see her being wheeled into an ER.
  • Bitsey returns to her motel room to find the door propped open and a videotape hanging from the ceiling. She then slowly looks through the rest of the room and bathroom (including slowly reaching out to open the shower curtain).
  • We see a videotape playback of a woman's death. In it, we see a nude woman lying on the floor with her arms cuffed behind her back and a plastic bag over her head. She briefly struggles and thrashes about a bit before dying (this comes off very much like a snuff film).
  • Bitsey and Zack realize that the man in the pickup truck is trailing them down the road.
  • Trying to prove a point, Bitsey reenacts what she thinks was a suicide by duct-taping her mouth, taping a plastic bag around her head and cuffing her own hands behind her back. Zack and another woman watch and count down the three minutes Bitsey told them to wait, but it's not long before she's struggling and he races over to free her.
  • Bitsey sneaks into a man's house looking for evidence, while she and we realize he could return at any moment.
  • Bitsey's race against the clock to stop Gale from being executed could be unsettling, tense or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Knife: Used in a mock suicide in an opera.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Aren't we so f*cking clever," "F*ck you," "F*ckers," "That's so f*cking cold," "F*cked up," "Not f*cking now," "D*ckwad," "Jerk," "Don't push me, smart ass," "Scum," "Schmuck," "Pissed," "Jeez," "Screw up," "Idiots," "Don't screw this up," "Friggin'" and "Freak."
  • A comely female student, Berlin, approaches Gale after class and informs him that she'll do anything (and emphasizes that word) to pass his class.
  • We see a young woman with multiple piercings in her nose and lip and a tattoo on the top of her breast.
  • It's possible the film could inspire some impressionable kids to give someone the same torture treatment that's present here (hands cuffed behind the back, the keys to them swallowed, duct tape across the mouth and a plastic bag taped around the head).
  • Bitsey gives Zack "the finger."
  • A person races across railroad tracks in his truck just as a train approaches.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 17 "f" words, 10 "s" words, 4 slang terms for sex ("do it," "d*ck her" and "lay"), 2 slang terms using male genitals ("d*ck"), 2 for breasts ("t*ts"), 1 ass, 1 crap, 1 damn, 1 hell, 7 uses of "G-damn," 4 each of "Jesus" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes," "God" and "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • There's talk that semen was found inside a murder victim as we see a black and white photo of her lying face down (we see the bare butt).
  • We see Gale asking his students what they fantasize about (world peace, fame, etc.) and he then adds something about meeting some hunk who will sleep on the "wet spot" (and some female student says she'll take two).
  • A comely female student, Berlin, approaches Gale after class and informs him that she'll do anything (and emphasizes that word) to pass his class. He then leans in toward her and acts like he's going to ask something sexual of her, but he then says he'll give her a very good grade if she just studies.
  • Berlin tells a man that when he was circumcised, they threw away the wrong part.
  • At a party, Gale and another professor participate in a game of sexual limericks. After the other guy finishes with a comment about a person being well-hung, Gale then does his about a lesbian who took a guy up to her room where "They argued all night as to who had the right to do what and how much to whom" (and he does some pelvic thrusting while finishing that comment).
  • Berlin comes into the bathroom at a party where Gale is drunk. She wears a top that's buttoned only in the middle (showing cleavage and her bare belly) and then states that she's no longer a student. She then does her own limerick, "There once was a girl named Berlin, who liked to do it now and again. Not now and again. But now, and again, and again." She then whispers to him that she wasn't after the grade (above) and then says that they could talk and contemplate, or "You can put your mouth on my body." They then passionately kiss and he takes off her top and kisses her cleavage. We then see the side of her bare butt as she tells him to rip her thong panties off her (he does). She then works on his belt and pants and we then see him between her legs as she sits up on the vanity. There's more passionate kissing and heavy breathing and she then wants him to get behind her. He does (after lifting her dress or skirt) and we see a torso and up shot of them as he has sex with her from behind (no nudity, but movement and more sounds). She then repeatedly tells him to "do it hard" and for him to bite her shoulder. We then see her nails scrape the side of his body.
  • The next day, Gale tells Constance that he did something profoundly stupid and she asks if he at least used a condom (and he says it was one of his students). She then makes a comment about him waiting until she was expelled before he decided to "d*ck her."
  • A woman (with a tattoo on the top of her breast) comments on serial killers liking to take photos of their work "to whack off to later."
  • We briefly see a guy in a small bathing suit.
  • We see a videotape playback of a woman's death. In it, we see a nude woman lying on the floor as well as various views of her breasts and butt.
  • Bitsey comments on Gale's semen being inside Constance.
  • Constance tells Gale that she regrets not having enough sex in her life. He then asks how many lovers she had and she says that including college she had four (she indicates this with her fingers). He then jokingly states that sex is overrated and not cracked up to what it's supposed to be. More such talk follows and he then suggests that they could make it five and she laughs that it would be a "pity lay." He says it wouldn't have to be about pity and we then see a shot panning across her bed (as we hear heavy breathing). The camera follows her bare leg from her foot to her hip and we then see Gale between her legs on the bed (partially in the shadows). She's crying (about tired of being scared about dying) but wants him to continue, stating, "Don't stop," "Please stay in me" and "I need to feel you inside." We see a little bit of movement and he kisses her face as she continues to cry.
  • We see several brief views of the above victim's bare breasts and butt (on TV).
  • We see a small, black and white photo of what looks like a man's bare butt.
  • SMOKING
  • Zack smokes around 5 times, while several miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • Braxton tells Zack to join him for a cigarette in the parking lot (we don't see them smoke).
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that Gale has an ex-wife and son and then see flashbacks where the wife is missing (she's in Spain) and Gale spends time with his son at home. Later, the wife leaves with their son and comments are made about a trial separation. Later, he gets an email from her that states she wants a divorce. For much of the rest of the film (at least in the flashback sections) he repeatedly tries to get in touch with them while they're overseas.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The death penalty.
  • Rape.
  • Leukemia.
  • Suicide.
  • Taking action for what you believe in and/or against what you oppose.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Zack burns his hand on the inside of a car engine compartment (seen from a distance with no gore).
  • Gale thrashes a pay phone with the receiver and then yanks the unit from its stand, injuring his hand (no blood).
  • We see a videotape playback of a woman's death. In it, we see a nude woman lying on the floor with her arms cuffed behind her back and a plastic bag over her head. She briefly thrashes about a bit before dying.
  • We hear about but don't see several state controlled executions.
  • There's a faked suicide (via a knife to the chest) in an opera.



  • Reviewed February 21, 2003 / Posted February 21, 2003

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