The Life of David Gale

Rated 2.0 An anti-death-penalty activist (Kevin Spacey) is on death row for the rape and murder of a colleague (Laura Linney) and has only four days to live unless a crusading reporter (Kate Winslet) can prove he was framed. Charles Randolph’s script is a fevered fantasy of liberal martyrdom (in real life, the right wing simply ignores people like David Gale). Director Alan Parker pitches the melodrama on high boil, and his way of dealing with all the holes in Randolph’s plot is to place huge, almost defiant exclamation points around them. Well, what else can he do? It’s no use pretending they aren’t there. Performances are stridently earnest except for Spacey, who is simply earnest—maybe it’s just me, but his tortured-reticence shtick seems to be wearing a little thin. J.L.