I’m not going to use spoiler boxes here, so exit now if you don’t want to see any spoilers.
I just rented “Life of David Gale”. I liked it. I vaguely remembered that it didn’t have a very successful release. Out of curiosity I did a search on the SDMB to see what might have been written when the movie was in theatrical release, and I found the following threads:
Here’s my OP. I don’t understand why everyone panned this movie so thoroughly. Many of the posters didn’t even bother to watch the movie. They just heard about the plot and read about Ebert’s zero stars, and then trash-talked it. Yet it obviously was not just a SDMB behavior. The movie didn’t do well at the box office. OK. It’s not Citizen Kane. Or even Sixth Sense. But there is a lot of dreck out there that didn’t do as poorly.
Most of the criticism seems directed at the basic plot. I’d be more understanding if the criticism was about the script or the acting.
I think perhaps that people just didn’t get it. Here’s my take on the story…
a) Gale gets framed by the student Berlin for the false rape.
b) His life from that point is ruined. He loses everything. His marriage, his son, his job, his house, his friends. Except for Constance. She remains his friend. It is all he has left.
c) Then he discovers that Constance has cancer and is dying, so he is about to lose her as well.
d) She is miserable and doesn’t want to die a lingering death, and he is miserable and has nothing to live for. This next part is unfilmed, but I can imagine they discuss a double suicide along the lines of “let’s just end all this pain.” During that discussion someone (I believe Gale) says “wait a minute, I have an idea.”
e) It is then that they concoct the fake murder. Instead of two useless suicides, Gale’s ex-wife and son receive a lot of money and they provide the example of “an innocent man being falsely executed” that the Texas governor gloatingly said didn’t exist.
f) In the end, they both still commit suicide (his just takes longer to take effect), yet achieve some good from it. Their deaths become sacrificial.
I don’t believe it’s any more complicated than that. It all fits. The false rape accusation is not part of any vast conspiracy, it is only the cause for Gale’s life to unravel. The movie is not really about capital punishment. It is about finding a way to salvage some good out of whole lot of bad. The capital punishment angle just provides some additional motive to the double suicide. And of course since it’s a movie it has to be done creatively. (e.g. - with a surprise ending)
Ebert’s complaint about the ending has to do with the final tape, disclosing to Bloom the fact that Gale was in on the fake murder.
I disagree. Bloom has already delivered the biggest story of her life so there is no career-advancing reason for her to disclose the contents of the last tape. Why would she destroy the only good to come out of the entire situation? Gale’s compassionate nature is consistent through to the end. He couldn’t bear to have Bloom live the rest of her life feeling guilty about not making it in time to save him.
Of course, one can certainly nitpick the delivery of the money in cash. That didn’t make sense to me either. But that is a minor quibble compared to the ranting that I’ve read about the plot itself.
At the risk of being judged as an indiscriminate viewer, I’ll ask: Did anyone other than me actually enjoy this movie?