Starring: Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, et
Director: Iain Softley
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Every being in the universe knows right from wrong
We had a recommendation to see "K-Pax" from a friend, but the reviews were so mixed. Seems either you love this film or it just leaves you cold. We fell into the "loves it" group and really admired K-Pax.
First, it has Kevin Spacey, who is a marvelous actor. This is a chance to see him carry a whole film, though one can't discount Jeff Bridges for his admirable job in the supporting role. When the film opens, Spacey shows up in a train station, sans luggage, and no good way of explaining how he got there. Naturally, he is hauled off by the police for being "wrong." His explanation of his origins (he's "Prot", from the planet K-Pax in the constellation Lyra) earn him a one-way ticket to the mental hospital. His doctor, played by Bridges, is fascinated, not because he believes Prot's story, but because he cannot immediately and definitely diagnose his mental illness. As a dillusional patient, Prot doesn't fit the normal profile.
As the film unfolds, we are toyed with--is Prot the real thing, an alien from outer space (after all, he eats bananas, skin and all) or is he deeply ill? The delicious part of the film is the constant re-adjustment we do to figure out what's going on. The humor, exquisitely played by Spacey's masterful deadpan, is delightful but never takes away from the drama and seriousness of other moments.
The end of the film could have been played a number of ways (the DVD gives you an alternate ending) but I like the one they chose to finish the film. The production is tight, the script is exquisitely written--not a scene or word out of place and the filming is discrete but masterful. Add in some great performances by the leads and supporting actors and you have one fine little film.
The sound on the DVD is unremarkable. The extras include a few scenes that were wisely cut from the film --always a treat to see good editing at work. The piano score is pleasant, but it repeats one motif endlessly while you set up the DVD and drove me nuts. Uh....maybe I shouldn't say "nuts."
Based on a novel by Gene Brewer, K-PAX works best as an adult drama of self-discovery, blessed by the talents of costars Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey. Bridges plays Manhattan psychiatrist Mark Powell, who thinks he's seen it all until he's assigned to analyze Prot (Spacey), a psychiatric patient who claims to be from a distant planet called K-PAX. Powell is convinced that Prot is "a convincing delusional," but his cynicism turns to open-minded fascination as Prot's case reveals a combination of otherworldly insight and all-too-human trauma, prompting an earthbound explanation for Prot's allegedly alien origins. As directed by Ian Softley (Wings of the Dove), this curiously engrossing drama allows Spacey to create a provocative and humorously eccentric enigma, while Bridges superbly conveys his character's compassionate empathy. Their finely shaded performances raise K-PAX above the forced ambiguity of its ending, which is both thought-provoking and vaguely anticlimactic.