Life of David Gale [2003]

Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) plays David Gale, a brilliant but hard-drinking anti-death penalty crusader on death row for a rape and murder that he claims he didn't commit. The victim of the crime is Gale's close friend and anti-death penalty colleague (Laura Linney, You Can Count On Me), so Gale argues that he's been set up to discredit the cause. Committed journalist Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet, Titanic) takes it upon herself to figure the whole thing out--and so we follow her through a ridiculous plot full of supposedly shocking twists that are telegraphed far in advance and make very little sense when they arrive. The overwritten script tries to cover too many hot-button issues and gives Spacey way too many showy scenes where he gets to be passionate and caring, which is creepier than his psychopath roles in The Usual Suspects and Seven. --Bret Fetzer

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