Monday, September 6, 2010

The Life of David Gale

"There's a point, when your mind outlives its obsessions, when your habits survive your dreams, when your losses... You wonder, maybe death is a gift. All I know I'll be be better off. What I don't know is why."

Saturday night and I've got time on my hands... and a project or two that needs my attention.  As true to my routine, I head into my atelier, sigh at the mess - the enormity of the mess - and plop down on the couch to find something mindless on TV to keep me company while I work.

What I find, and am tempted to NOT watch, but rather record & watch later, is 2003's "The Life of David Gale." 

This is one of those movies I remember from its release (how can it be 7 years old already???), but never got around to seeing in the theaters, never heard a word about and promptly dismissed it from my mind until this moment.  I read the description: (something to the effect of) "a journalist interviews a death row inmate and rushes to prove his innocence before his execution."

Hmmm, I ponder...  it does sound interesting.  Kevin Spacey (love him), Kate Winslet (love her), Laura Linney (a definite fav...) - great actors all...  but still.  It sounds like a "thinker" and a "close watcher," neither of which I have time for tonight.  I have work to do!  I should just see what's on HGTV, or Lifetime, or Bravo, and save this for another day when I do have time to sit & watch... really watch... and think... and ponder...

But, even as I'm thinking this - pondering this - I connect to the channel and immediately become engrossed as I see a woman running thru a street trying desperately to flag down a driver to give her a ride...  WTH?

And so begins my journey into "The Life of David Gale."

The tagline is:  The crime is clear.  The truth is not.

Well, in my not so humble opinion, a lot more than the truth is unclear in this movie...  I can't even begin to explain how disappointed I was. And frustrated.  And aggravated.  You know, I actually liked it - until the point when the crime is explained.  Then I absolutely hated it when the final detail fell into place - at the very last minute of the movie.  I was almost angry.  And insulted.  Really?  Really????  Seriously?  Are you kidding me????

Then:  Whatever, with a shake of my head.  What-freakin'-ever.


Of course, I've thought about it quite a bit since Saturday night.  Even discussed it with a friend over lunch the next day.  And, while searching for an image to use in this blog post, I actually found a working copy of the script - and read it!  In one sitting and in it's entirety in hopes that I'd appreciate it more (which I do, although I can't say I really like it any better; here's the link:  So all this obsession, if you will, makes me further ponder (more with the pondering?): isn't that what a good story makes you do?  Continue to think about it?  Haven't I mentioned more than once in this blog how I love a story that stays with me, lingers on my mind, causes me to play out the fantasy of the rest of their lives - the what happens next - in my mind? 

Well, not this time.  This time the story continuation stops cold and makes me "tsk!" in disgusted irritation.  And I'm realizing there is a difference between a story that lingers creatively in your heart and mind and a story that plagues you with frustrating, unanswered questions... a story with an ending you just cannot relate to, no matter how hard you try.  A story, that when said & done, you define as stupid.

Oh, that's it!  At the end of the movie I decided what they did was stupid.  Yep, they (the characters) were stupid.  Illogical.  Fanatical.  And just plain dumb-asses.


Here's my thought:  the story is definitely interesting and the concept very creative.  I just think it didn't work.  I think, sometimes, in our zealousness to come up with a new idea, something that hasn't been done & overdone time & again, we writers miss our mark.  We become overly creative and therefore overly complicated.  To me, a better story - any art really - should explain itself, definitely not need to be explained.  But having said that, now that I know the whole story and the characters' intent (thanks to my continued ponderances AND the reading of the script), I really don't know that it could have been told, or ended, any other way.


So, I continue to ponder here...  since the story played out as it should, regardless of my disbelief in the calculated complexity of it, is it actually successful?  And, hmmmm, am I doing exactly what the storyteller wanted?  Does my continued ponderance (is that a real word?) of this story deem it a success in his terms?  Perhaps, it does.  Perhaps he's sitting somewhere having a chuckle because I'm giving him exactly what he wanted all along.  Someone to think about this so much it is not forgotten...

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