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K-PAX

SYNOPSIS:
When Prot (Kevin Spacey) is detained by police at Grand Central Station after witnessing a mugging, he is thought to be mentally ill, claiming to be from another planet. He is put in the care of psychiatrist Dr Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges), to whom he extolls the virtues of the planet K-Pax. Prot baffles even scientists by his in-depth knowledge of astronomical matters, but scepticism runs deep. Dr Powell is destablisied by his own ambivalence: is Prot delusional in the wake of earlier trauma, or is he really from another galaxy?

Reviewed by Andrew L. Urban:
Probably best enjoyed if you know zero about it, this is an intriguing story that captures our imaginations, mostly through the intellect. Indeed, some of the screenplay deals directly with philosophical issues about the nature of the human race, which I personally find interesting, but others may not. There is also a strong echo of saviour-stories, but this is kept low key. Drawn from literature, the work is cerebral in some ways, but Iain Softley (Hackers, The Wings of the Dove) makes a good fist of turning it into a teasing and cinematic experience. That, above all, is the filmís great achievement, submerging us in its world for two hours with complete authenticity. If you havenít read the book youíll have an edgier experience, but the realisation of the story is compelling. After seeing Kevin Spaceyís Ďnothing maní in The Shipping News, itís interesting to see this vibrant character actor play another low key persona, because itís a very different one. The mystery of who he is is retained well, although I thoroughly disagree with showing a nuance in his expression at the very end of the film. (Youíll know what I mean when you see it.) I donít care what the book says, the film should be totally deadpan here. But that aside, the film works for me in every department, from casting to music to the taut direction. And I enjoy being challenged with the subject matter, sent on a quest of my own.

Reviewed by Louise Keller:
A truly fascinating film, K-Pax creates a marvellous reality and stimulates our imagination, allowing us to stretch our minds as far as we choose. The unique premise from Gene Brewer's novel is beautifully visualised with a rich, adept screenplay and superb performances. Of course, much of the film's success relies on Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges, but the intricacy of all the personalities in the psychiatric ward are memorable. Spacey's Prot has a credible aura of mystique and Spacey makes him very accessible. While straightforward and open, he is at the same time mysterious and complex. We like him. And we can understand why the others patients can relate to him and give them hope. Prot represents the impossible, the improbable and illogical. How uplifting that is to us all! It's like discovering a shaft of light in the pitch dark. Of course we are reminded of Jack Nicholson's unforgettable Randle Patrick McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but K-Pax takes us on a different trip. It's a tour de force performance by Spacey, who elevates his screen persona into an almost heavenly creature. Bridges' psychiatrist is the grounding factor, and Bridges skillfully effects the shrink who has seen it all, but eagerly responds to the stimulus. Iain Softley treats his audience with great intelligence, but there is one sequence when Prot is hypnotised and we are shown events that I would have preferred to have left to my imagination. But ultimately, we are allowed the privilege of making up our own minds Ė a tantalising treat to mull over. K-Pax gives the grey cells a good work out; we are left enthralled and stimulated. Maybe the bluebird of happiness is not a delusion after all!

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

K-PAX (M)
(US)

CAST: Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Alfre Woodard, Mary McCormack, Peter Gerety, Saul Williams

DIRECTOR: Iain Softley

PRODUCER: Lawrence Grodon, Lloyd Levin, Robert F. Colesberry

SCRIPT: Charles Leavitt (based on the novel by Gene Brewer)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Mathieson B.S.C.

EDITOR: Craig McKay A.C.E.

MUSIC: Edward Shearmur

PRODUCTION DESIGN: John Beard

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 28, 2002

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE

VIDEO RELEASE: July 24, 2002







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