Activists have a love-hate relationship with the rest of the world. We either adore their spirit and respect their drive, or abhor their righteousness and hold their outgoing personalities in contempt. What we don’t see is the sacrifice these people make in the name of an issue they believe in. Whether that sacrifice is health, family, or life, one should revere an individual who is willing to risk it all for something they believe in.
The Life of David Gale is directed by Alan Parker and is driven by Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet. This thriller/drama is a nod to the life of college liberal activists. David Gale (Spacey) is a university professor who believes the death penalty should be abolished. What the public doesn’t see is that Gale’s personal life is crumbling – he is becoming addicted to alcohol, his wife is having an affair and eventually takes their son to Barcelona, and he is about to lose his job at the university thanks to a one night stand with a student turned ugly. When Gale’s activist companion, fellow professor Constance Harraway, is brutally raped and murdered in her own home, Gale is prosecuted to the fully extent of the law and, ironically, is given the death penalty.
The mentioned synopsis does not do this movie justice. The storyline is amazing, with plenty of twists along the way. The story unfolds like clockwork and there is never a dull moment. Watching Gale go from respected professor to homeless vagabond is true to reality and, in turn, ever more heartbreaking. The actors look comfortable in their roles. Spacey is always on key, but even the lower tier performers step it up a notch to complete this fascinating story. The ending will leave the viewer speechless and not only tie the movie together wonderfully, but teach us all a lesson on the value of life and the chance to make a difference/statement in the world.
The lone issue I have with the film is the soundtrack. The main theme is somewhat cheesy, adding nothing to the overall feeling of the moment, and sometimes even dampening it. A more eerie, dramatic score would have felt appropriate.
Some possess that conviction, that faith, that principle that is so strong, so unyielding, that a family, a reputation, a life, would crumble before it. Sometimes sacrificing everything is the only way to open the ears of the world. Sometimes using the system against itself, even if it means death, is the only way to make a difference.