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View Full Version : The Life of David Gale..... with SPOILERS!!!



derek
03-03-2003, 04:52 PM
usually, i stay away from films that are blatant propaganda for certain politically correct causes, like John Q. my initial reaction to this film, The Life of David Gale, a film starring Kevin Spacey, about a man on death row in Texas, was exactly the same. i'm all for films that attempt to provoke thought and discussion, but for a film like "John Q", which attempts to justify socialized state run health care by playing to the emotions of the ignorant or uninformed, i can do without.

but "David Gale" has been getting such bad reviews, that i just had to give it a look, if for nothing more than the fact that i enjoy a good train wreck;), but really because i had expected the "liberal" media to latch onto and really promote a film that opposed the death penalty, but just the opposite was happening. they either hated it, or worse, are ignoring it all-together. this film wasn't getting a mere thumbs down, but stuff like "zero out of 4 stars" and my local paper's movie reviewer gave it a "D". only films starring steven segal or damon wayons usually get the dreaded "D".

so, now that i'm interested, and i can't find any decent spoilers about the film, since apparently no one else has paid to see it, i decide to "take one for the team" and plop down my $3.50 for this film.

without giving anything away, i kept waiting and waiting for this horrible film that i'd read so much about to rear it's ugly head. well, when the film ended, i came to the conclusion the reviewers had seen a different film than the one i just saw, or disagreed with the message on moral or political grounds so much, that it rendered them unable to produce an objective review.

oh, sure, the film had a few problems, like having everyone in Texas sound like a hick, and a slack-jawed governor who was supposed to be a spoof of G.W. Bush, who said things like, "in texas we hate killin', and we'll kill to stop it!" :rolleyes:

and i had a few problems with some of the plot points, but understand their necessity to move the film along and add a little suspence, even though in reality, things would of happened a little different.

in closing, i recommend this film, at least as a rental or discount early show. regardless if you are in favor of, or oppose the death penalty, you will probably be suprised by the twist at the end. i thought i had it all figured out based on the previews i'd seen, but was rather impressed with the route the writer took. and as usual, kevin spacey is very good.:)

stillakid
03-03-2003, 08:25 PM
I disagree and TOTALLY recommend this film. I haven't seen such fine writing for a long while.

While I can never know for sure, I can only guess that people who "choose" to dislike the film have gone in with a laundry list of preconceptions about it or an agenda to hate it based on their personal politics.

What I think most people are missing is that the film isn't about the death penalty, pro or con, at all. It merely uses that issue as a backdrop to tell a very interesting story about the life of David Gale, ergo the title. It's like saying that Star Wars is an anti-war movie. No, it merely uses a troubled Republic to tell a story about the people who are caught up within it.

It's a shame that reviews like the above, which are all over the press, paint a grossly innaccurate picture of what that film is all about. Not only do the filmmakers lose because critics don't take the time to really understand what they're seeing, the audience will miss out on a truly wonderful and entertaining movie.

derek
03-03-2003, 08:44 PM
did you even read my post? if so, you would see that i did like the film and do recommend everyone see it. :confused:

stillakid
03-03-2003, 08:49 PM
Originally posted by derek
what do you disagree with? i recommend this film as well.:)

You did, but it seemed to be a bit begrudgingly. The recommendation to "wait" for cheaper theaters or a "discount" show tends to connotate that it really isn't worth going at all. Maybe you didn't mean it that way, but that's how I usually take it when someone tells me that it isn't worth paying full price.

Plus, I'm not really sure if you see it as a "political" movie (pro or con the issue) or if you agree with my view that it wasn't meant to be that at all. Based on your opening statement, it seems that you still do define this as a political anti-death row film even though you enjoyed it. :confused:

I just really enjoyed it and found the writing to be superb. Kevin Spacey, as always, was amazing. I had visions of Keyser Soze at the end though, with the twist and all.


Regarding John Q., I too stayed away from that one for a couple reasons. The first being that it definitely WAS entirely about that political issue of health care. If I want to see a message movie, I'd rather watch a documentary with some real facts. Which leads to the second reason I didn't watch it: The irony of that film was that the reason Denzel's character lost his job (and then his health care) is because his company moved the jobs across the border. John Q. was filmed on location in Vancouver, Canada. There's the pot calling the kettle black.





SPOILER ALERT:
If you haven't seen the film and want to, skip past this stuff:

Derek, I do have two questions:

1. Was the older guy in France at the end Kevin's son? They cut out of that scene so fast, I really felt like the audience needed to see the son react and understand what his father did.

2. Did the cowboy commit suicide (afterwards offscreen)? The opera certainly can be seen to be foreshadowing it, plus he's the only one left alive in the scheme...and he can't very well go on living freely.

derek
03-03-2003, 09:13 PM
i was suggesting anyone who had reservations about this film to see it. it's well worth the full ticket price, but what i meant was at least see it at an early "cheap" show, or when it's on video, if you had not planned on seeing it at all.:) i guess i didn't make that "crystal" clear.:)


Was the older guy in France at the end Kevin's son

i had the impression that was his ex-wife's lover. i'm not sure what role the "package" the cowboy delivered had to do with the film, except to maybe take care of gale's wife and son.


Did the cowboy commit suicide
i would say no. i just think the opera performer's action was an exclamation point to the film.:) plus, he was in france, which dosen't really like to extradite criminals back to the U.S.

overall, i do think the writer of this film is anti-death penalty, but he(or she) used a couple of characters who were willing to sacrifice themselves for their cause, which is what i got the film was really about, believing in something so much, you would sacrifice yourself for it. (the characters in this film didn't really do this though, in my opinion, since they really weren't making a true sacrifice.

stillakid
03-03-2003, 09:38 PM
Originally posted by derek
i was suggesting anyone who had reservations about this film to see it. it's well worth the full ticket price, but what i meant was at least see it at an early "cheap" show, or when it's on video, if you had not planned on seeing it at all.:) i guess i didn't make that "crystal" clear.:)

Ahhh, yes. :)




Originally posted by derek
i had the impression that was his ex-wife's lover. i'm not sure what role the "package" the cowboy delivered had to do with the film, except to maybe take care of gale's wife and son.
That's what I initially thought too, about the man being the lover or new husband. But after I thought about it for awhile, it makes more sense that it was the son. I'm dying to get my hands on a script to know for sure.

The package, I think, was just as you describe. It was the best Gale could offer for inadvertantly causing so much pain to his family. That "profoundly stupid" act was the catalyst for his life going downhill. That's why I don't believe this to be an inherently politically motivated film at all. It's all about how one "insignificant" thing can COMPLETELY alter the direction of someone's life. In the end, he, just like Laura Linney's character, realize that they are both doomed to lives of pain and desperation. They were both going to die, but through their plan, they could use their deaths for a purpose even though they would not see the results.

But certainly, an anti-death penalty person could easily use this as a placard for his cause, but it would be a disingenuous use of the film I believe.



Originally posted by derek
i would say no. i just think the opera performer's action was an exclamation point to the film.:) plus, he was in france, which dosen't really like to extradite criminals back to the U.S.
I guess. Another reason to get the script. It plan just has more...closure, if he takes his own life too. Laura did. Kevin essentially committed suicide. It seems fitting that the third participant would as well.


Originally posted by derek
overall, i do think the writer of this film is anit-death penalty, but he(or she) used a couple of characters who were willing to sacrifice themselves for their cause, which is what i got the film was really about, believing in a cause so much, you would sacrifice yourself for it. (the characters in this film didn't really do this though, in my opinion, since they really weren't making a true sacrifice.
I lost you at the end. They weren't making a true sacrifice? I suppose if you mean what I described above about their lives being "lost" anyway, then I agree.

But the problem with this being an anti-death penalty film, is that the premise of there argument is that innocent people get put to death. The plan, as seen by the national media (via the partial tape), shows that to be true. BUT, the whole tape which only Bitsy sees turns the tables and DISPROVES the argument. David Gale was in fact quite guilty as an accomplice in her death. I'm not a lawyer so I don't know what the penalty is for allowing a person to commit suicide in front of you, but it might be punishable by death in some states. I don't know. But anyway, you see what I mean? It simply can't be a political film extolling the virtues of being anti-death penalty. The final tape we see contradicts that notion.

derek
03-03-2003, 10:09 PM
spoilers!!!



They weren't making a true sacrifice

both spacey and linney were very anti-death penalty, but only "sacrificed" themselves for the cause when their lives were essentially over. linney had terminal cancer, and gale's life as he knew it was over, so then they decided to martyr themselves.

a true sacrifice would of been for them, at the prime of their lives to do what they did.

i think your analysis of the film is correct, in that just one bad decision can really alter one's life, but i also believe this was an anti death penalty film as well. in gale's debate with the governor, the governor said,"you give me the name of one innocent person we've executed, and i'll end the death penalty". well, gale gave him one name.;) the writer was showing that poor choices can drastically alter one's life, and at the same time, show it is possible to execute an innocent man.

assisted suicide is a crime, but no one would be sent to death row for it. and technically no one really assisted her. "depravied indifference" is what gale would of probably been charged with. what spacey, linney, and the "cowboy" should of done was just make the tape of linney killing herself, and not revealing who filmed it. making multiple copies of the suicide tape, but only showing parts of it didn't make sence, except to lead the audience to believe gale was being framed by right wingers. there should of been only one complete tape sent to bitsey after gale was executed. i would of preferred if the audience wasn't so sure if gale was involved in this or not.

i'm wondering what role gale's lawyer played in this. based on his statement that "they were only beginning to fight" led me to conclude he too was in on it. but if so, he would surely be dis-barred for his actions. (he knew an innocent man was being tried, and intentionally mis-represented his client so he would get the death penalty, when he could of gotten life.)

derek
03-03-2003, 10:51 PM
well stillakid, it looks like you, i and one dude over at home theatre forum are the only ones who liked this movie........:)

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htforum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=126634

stillakid
03-03-2003, 11:16 PM
Originally posted by derek
spoilers!!!
both spacey and linney were very anti-death penalty, but only "sacrificed" themselves for the cause when their lives were essentially over. linney had terminal cancer, and gale's life as he knew it was over, so then they decided to martyr themselves.

a true sacrifice would of been for them, at the prime of their lives to do what they did.
Right, exactly! :) Their lives weren't gone, but they didn't need to be wasted.


Originally posted by derek
i think your analysis of the film is correct, in that just one bad decision can really alter one's life, but i also believe this was an anti death penalty film as well. in gale's debate with the governor, the governor said,"you give me the name of one innocent person we've executed, and i'll end the death penalty". well, gale gave him one name.;)
Yes, EXCEPT that this is the point where a critic (professional or not) can latch onto and proclaim that it's a political film. "Aha, David Gale didn't have a name so he martyred himself as the "innocent" that gets executed!" Except that it isn't true in the end. He knew the truth about Linney's death which made him an accomplice in her death. Legal definitions aside, he wasn't framed nor was he ignorant of what happened as he claimed all along. He was pretty much just as guilty as if he had wrapped the bag around her head himself. This isn't meant to belittle their efforts. All I'm saying is that it's this element of the story which shows that it isn't meant to be a political film, rather just a dramatic and entertaining story of a guy's unfortunate life.


Originally posted by derek
the writer was showing that poor choices can drastically alter one's life, and at the same time, show it is possible to execute an innocent man.
I think it was the first and less of the second, only because of how you describe it below, that the audience gets to see the whole tape in the end. Had we not been privy to that, then yeah, this probably would have been a very obvious anti-death penalty film, but instead it's just an interesting dramatic tragedy.


Originally posted by derek
assisted suicide is a crime, but no one would be sent to death row for it. and technically no one really assisted her. "depravied indifference" is what gale would of probably been charged with. what spacey, linney, and the "cowboy" should of done was just make the tape of linney killing herself, and not revealing who filmed it. making multiple copies of the suicide tape, but only showing parts of it didn't make sence, except to lead the audience to believe gale was being framed by right wingers. there should of been only one complete tape sent to bitsey after gale was executed. i would of preferred if the audience wasn't so sure if gale was involved in this or not.
That's how I came to my conclusion that this is not an inherently politically motivated story. Had the filmmakers (screenwriters, director) chosen to do what you suggest, then definitely, the core thrust of the story would have been entirely different. But as it currently exists, it is exactly as the title describes...no more, no less. Anyone trying to inject their political leanings one way or another onto it is missing the point.


Originally posted by derek
i'm wondering what role gale's lawyer played in this. based on his statement that "they were only beginning to fight" led me to conclude he too was in on it. but if so, he would surely be dis-barred for his actions. (he knew an innocent man was being tried, and intentionally mis-represented his client so he would get the death penalty, when he could of gotten life.)
Yeah, the lawyer definitely was in on it. That's why the reporters told us, the audience, all about how he botched the numerous appeals and such. Not to mention the briefcase business and everything else. But without the final "Off the Record" videotape, nobody in the world will ever know how involved the lawyer was from the beginning. That's why Bitsy was chosen and why the tape was labeled in exactly that way. She went to jail to protect her sources before and David Gale knew that she would never reveal the whole truth that she learns in the end. So the lawyer gets off scot-free.

That's what led me to believe that the cowboy ends up committing suicide. He's the only one left hanging out to dry. While the opera scene certainly can be "summing up" the sacrifice of the other two, it could be construed as foreshadowing his plans for himself. It's also quite possible that the opera itself provides the answer to that. It's quite likely that they didn't just randomly pick an opera with a suicide in it. If I understood "opera-ese" maybe I could make sense of it. I'm not familiar at all with opera so I can't relate whatever story was being told on stage with the entire movie we just saw. But I'd be willing to bet that there's more to it than just the suicide in the end.

stillakid
03-03-2003, 11:21 PM
Originally posted by derek
well stillakid, it looks like you, i and one dude over at home theatre forum are the only ones who liked this movie........:)

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htforum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=126634

Well, that's interesting. A scant couple of points made maybe were valid. But based on the majority of comments I read, it just goes to further prove my basic belief that most people are complete morons. They obviously went in looking for a different movie than the one that was actually created. That's too bad. Not for them, but for the countless others that will read their unsubstantiated drivel and believe it sight unseen. I haven't looked, but I'm willing to bet that all the naysayers over there are going ka ka over Lord of the Rings, one of the most obvious "beat us over the head" black & white stories ever concocted.

Oh well. What can you do?:rolleyes:

derek
03-04-2003, 09:25 AM
They obviously went in looking for a different movie than the one that was actually created.

i think the blame for this should be placed on the studio and who ever created the trailers and commercials advertising the film.
from all the previews i saw, i was really expecting an activist anti death penalty film, kinda like Dead Man Walking with Sean Penn.

all the previews played up the death penalty aspect of the film. the studio was probably hoping this "hot potato" would be the draw that got people in the seats, but it looks like it backfired on them.

and then the actions of the characters probably turned off a lot of people. the pro death penalty folks who don't think about the film will be turned off, and the anti death penalty people, while they may agree with gale's postiton, probably despised the way he proved his point, thus they were unable to see the film for what it really is.:)

stillakid
03-04-2003, 09:30 AM
Originally posted by derek
i think the blame for this should be placed on the studio and who ever created the trailers and commercials advertising the film.
from all the previews i saw, i was really expecting an activist anti death penalty film, kinda like Dead Man Walking with Sean Penn.

all the previews played up the death penalty aspect of the film. the studio was probably hoping this "hot potato" would be the draw that got people in the seats, but it looks like it backfired on them.

and then the actions of the characters probably turned off a lot of people. the pro death penalty folks who don't think about the film will be turned off, and the anti death penalty people, while they may agree with gale's postiton, probably despised the way he proved his point, thus they were unable to see the film for what it really is.:)

Good point. Marketing has killed some really great movies. The Princess Bride is the first one that came to mind.

SQueek
03-04-2003, 03:49 PM
Originally posted by derek
if for nothing more than the fact that i enjoy a good train wreck

does't everyone, lol

2-1B
03-16-2003, 11:52 PM
I already saw Texans as backward hicks, so don't worry - this film had no effect on my reactions to the film. :D :crazed: :D :crazed:
(extra smilies added to clarify that I'm KIDDING :p )

What a fantastic film ! ! ! :)
I finally saw it tonight and I'm excited to now enter this thread.
I knew absolutely nothing about the movie except for the trailers, so I had to avoid this thread to keep spoiler free . . .

First of all, I must say that I wasn't too surprised by the twists. They were certainly well done, but I think I had it figured out fairly early. Once Constance talked about how they needed to name an executed innocent, I started to suspect a possible frame job by her of Gale . . . I did think it was a bit of a stretch though, since she seemed to genuinely love him. But as soon as the Leukemia was brought to life, I was confident in my hypothesis . . . I wondered if she decided that since she was going to die soon anyway, she may as well make her case.

As for Dusty the Cowboy's involvement, I thought they did a nice job of keeping him suspicious - but I never bought for even a moment that he was originally supposed to turn over the tape for a last minute stay. All along, Constance had said that they needed a DEAD MAN to prove the imperfection of the system.

As for Gale, I was suspicious of him just because he waited until 4 days were left to grant the interview. If he really wanted Bitsey to find out the truth to set him free, he just couldn't have waited that long.

I had completely forgotten about the evidence of a partial thumbprint. The final scene was perfect in that sense, with Gale brushing the bag.

Overall, it was a disturbing movie just because of the "snuff film" aspect. I need to read through this thread again to hit on some specific points. :)

2-1B
03-23-2003, 01:12 AM
I didn't get the impression that Dusty the cowboy was going to kill himself at the end. It's an interesting interpretation, stillakid, and I'm not ruling it out. I just didn't arrive to that conclusion.

When I saw that scene, I focused more on the woman on stage who killed herself. I took that character to represent Dusty's friend Constance, and the character's act of suicide on stage was a sort of "validation" for Dusty that they did the right thing.
It's being celebrated on stage, it must be noble . . . just as Dusty thought he and his cohorts were noble.



stillakid, that is a VERY good point about their stunt both proving their stance and yet disproving it in light of the "director's cut" :D version Bitsy sees at the end . . . and in that sense, it really is not a film "for or against" the death penalty.
But I'm still going to disagree with you somewhat. :crazed:

David Gale was convicted of the rape and murder of his friend. There was circumstantial physical evidence (sexual and violent) which the state used to "prove" his guilt.
Did he have a role in her death? Yes.
Was he executed for that role? NO.
He is innocent of the crimes he was accused of . . .

However, if we look at it from the other side, we must wonder - COULD she have faked her murder without his participation? I think it would have been difficult . . . but still possible. The sexual evidence could be gathered on her own, the thumbprint on the bag could be gathered since they were friends (not unusual for him to be at her home leaving prints).
His physical participation in her death was not necessary, but his cooperation would be needed after the fact.
If he was truly unaware of the plot, he certainly would have put up more of a fight. Were he REALLY trying to avoid the death sentence, he would have put up more of a fight . . . and regarding that fight, he wouldn't have had his own lawyer working to ensure he was executed.




Hmmmm, about the guy at the end - was he Gale's son or his wife's new man? I wasn't sure either, and I'm still not . . . how much time had passed between his conviction and execution?
I think the answer lies right there. The kid was pretty young when Gale's wife left. A certain amount of time passed after they split up, he worked as a manager and really went into his downturn. I don't know how much time passed, but it could have even been a few years (maybe?). Constance dies and Gale is eventually arrested and convicted. We know he spent several years on death row. But how many? I remember they gave a year of the event . . . 1994 maybe? If it was '94, that means he sat on death row for about 8 years. Maybe it was a year or two earlier that his wife and kid left . . . so let's say a decade.
How old was the kid when he left? 6? 8? He could have been a late teenager in France when his father died, so it very well could have been him at the end. Was the guy in question wearing a suit? I thought so, and maybe that threw me off at first. He seemed too old to be Gale's son, but I was probably mistaken about that. Besides, Gale said he wanted his son to remember his father not as a murderer --- so it would make more sense that he was with his mother when she received the money and note from the former student. And, probably, the worldwide news of Gale's wrongful execution.

:)

stillakid
03-23-2003, 02:58 PM
Originally posted by Caesar
I didn't get the impression that Dusty the cowboy was going to kill himself at the end. It's an interesting interpretation, stillakid, and I'm not ruling it out. I just didn't arrive to that conclusion.

When I saw that scene, I focused more on the woman on stage who killed herself. I took that character to represent Dusty's friend Constance, and the character's act of suicide on stage was a sort of "validation" for Dusty that they did the right thing.
It's being celebrated on stage, it must be noble . . . just as Dusty thought he and his cohorts were noble.
I'm still looking for a script to find the answer to this one and the answer to who the guy is at the end.

I think that the reason I started believing that Rusty will commit suicide is that he really has nowhere to go.

Obviously Constance had a clear role in the subterfuge and had the ploy not involved her own death, then she would be in trouble with the law.

Same with Gale. His part in the plan is more than obvious and he too would have to deal with the law had he also not wound up dead.

The only one left is Rusty. As I watched him take the money from the lawyer, my first impression was that it was cash for him to live on in exile somewhere safe. But after he delivered it to the wife, it occurred to me that now he has nowhere to go and no money to spend. He is left essentially with nothing except the knowledge that his greatest desire to make a point about capital punishment has been made in a grand gesture.

So not only does he not have a safe haven to retreat to nor resources to use once he's there, he also has no "work" left to do. He committed his entire life to this one cause. But now without a viable means to publicly work against the system, there is no reason to continue living. It just doesn't seem to be in his character to hide out on a tropical island for the remainder of his days.



Originally posted by Caesar
stillakid, that is a VERY good point about their stunt both proving their stance and yet disproving it in light of the "director's cut" :D version Bitsy sees at the end . . . and in that sense, it really is not a film "for or against" the death penalty.
But I'm still going to disagree with you somewhat. :crazed:

David Gale was convicted of the rape and murder of his friend. There was circumstantial physical evidence (sexual and violent) which the state used to "prove" his guilt.
Did he have a role in her death? Yes.
Was he executed for that role? NO.
He is innocent of the crimes he was accused of . . .

However, if we look at it from the other side, we must wonder - COULD she have faked her murder without his participation? I think it would have been difficult . . . but still possible. The sexual evidence could be gathered on her own, the thumbprint on the bag could be gathered since they were friends (not unusual for him to be at her home leaving prints).
His physical participation in her death was not necessary, but his cooperation would be needed after the fact.
If he was truly unaware of the plot, he certainly would have put up more of a fight. Were he REALLY trying to avoid the death sentence, he would have put up more of a fight . . . and regarding that fight, he wouldn't have had his own lawyer working to ensure he was executed.

I think that your evaluation is absolutely correct. And this is why I suggest that the movie is definitely not about trying to make a point one way or another about the death penalty. It merely uses that as a backdrop to tell a tragic story about this guy named David Gale. I've been reading a bunch of the reviews for this film and in almost every case, the writers miss this crucial point and base their reactions upon the notion that it is primarily a politically motivated story. Then, ergo, their own prejudices get in the way of objectively analyzing what is really in front of them.

2-1B
03-24-2003, 03:02 AM
Yeah - where would he go? What would he do?

derek had a good point about France and extradition - and while watching it at first I thought he was just going on the lam. Of course, we found out quickly that he was going there to hide but to deliver a package.

Thanks for sharing that theory, I wouldn't have thought of it otherwise . . . :)




Let us know if you find any script info about the kid, I'm quite interested. Otherwise, I'll be sure to rent the DVD to check the dates and timespan again.

Kidhuman
07-27-2003, 11:45 AM
Good movie. The only thing is I figured out she commited suicide halfway through the movie. Nice little plot twist to go in there. Dusty had me stumped on what his part was though. I thought the lawyer seemed shady from the beginning.

2-1B
07-27-2003, 03:24 PM
Welcome to the club kidhuman, that makes a total of 9 people on the planet who like this movie. :D

Kidhuman
07-27-2003, 04:02 PM
My wife liked it as well so we hit double digits!!!!!!