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Having lost his teaching career and family over the incident and seeing his high profile role in the politics of death penalty issues consequently disappear, he ends up accused of the rape and horrific murder of Constance Harraway (Laura Linney). Constance was David's fellow death penalty oppponent fanatic and best friend, the one who stood by him through thick and thin and helped him try to regain control of his life.
Tried and convicted for her rape and murder, David is ironically now an inmate on death row. He grants an ambitious reporter, Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet), an interview just days before his execution. As his story unfolds, revealed in a series of flashbacks leading to the final denouement, Bitsey begins to believe that David might truly be innocent. She begins to investigate and put together the pieces of the enigma that is David Gayle.
As a death penalty issues film, it fails, as the film paints both sides of this hot button issue in an unflattering light. It is definitely not a propaganda film and those looking for such will, inevitably, be disappointed. As a whodunit, it succeeds brilliantly, as the plot is complex and filled with enough twists and turns and red herrings to delight even the most jaded mystery aficionado.
The film is really not about the death penalty. It is, instead, about an unhappy man, who has lost all that he holds most dear, and a decision that he makes about what to do with the rest of his life.Read more ›
The story itself is wonderful, though I can tell you as someone who lived in Austin for six years that protests on the scale of those in the film never took place, especially not in front of the capitol building...but that's about the only thing that the film got wrong. The story is compelling, with an anti-death penalty activist on death row, awaiting lethal injection (Texas does NOT use the electric chair) and the tough, ballsy reporter who initially judges Gale the way everyone else does. The way he brings her around is fascinating and the bare truth with which he bares his soul to her...his story is not romanticized one iota. It's a great film, and one of the only films to come out of Hollywood recently that has not portrayed Texans as gun-happy zealots. Wonderful.