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K-PAX, 2001
Movie Reviews!

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k-pax POSTERK-PAX, 2001
Movie Reviews

Directed by Iain Softley

Starring Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Mary McCormack, Alfre Woodard, David Patrick Kelly, Saul Williams, Peter Gerety
Review by Russell Hill


SYNOPSIS:

After being arrested in the Grand Station Central of New York City, a man calling himself Prot (Spacey), who claims to have travelled to Earth from his home planet of K-PAX, is taken to the Manhattan Psychiatric Centre because he is believed to be mentally ill. Mark Powell (Bridges), a psychologist, meets with the man, named Prot, and decides to treat him. Prot seems peaceful and is extremely knowledgeable, even baffling astrophysicists with his uncanny knowledge of astronomy.

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REVIEW:

Over the past few years, I have become a dedicated fan of Kevin Spacey. Buying and watching any film I could lay my hands on which he appears in, I was thrilled to see him cast as Lex Luthor in the latest Superman film where I thought he was the best element of that movie. Brandon Routh just didn’t do it for me as the Man of Steel. Christopher Reeve and George Reeves will always be Clark Kent in my opinion. Anyway, this appreciation of Spacey must have started here in this movie due to how good it is.

Arriving in New York’s Grand Central Station one sunny afternoon, Prot (Spacey) is taken away by security guards after possessing no ticket and saying that he has come from a far off planet. Taken to the nearby psychiatric ward for examination, his case is taken at first with a pinch of salt by Dr Mark Powell (Bridges). But, over time, Prot reveals to him some fascinating stories and tales which must surely disclaim Marks initial thoughts. Is Prot actually from another world or is he a savant?

To any simpleton watching this movie, you could be mistaken for thinking this to be a lesser-known flick which is similar to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest”. But no, dear cinephile, you should never mistake Jack Nicholson’s movie to Spacey’s. Firstly, there are some complex issues dealt with here; murder, light travel and the breakdown of family are to name just a few. And one of the main reasons for these messages to be put across in such a successful way? Why, only Kevin Spacey of course.

At first, you believe Spacey will portray only a man from outer space. But, as the narrative progresses, you witness a performance of such thespian grandness that you are seeing a Brando at his best, or an Olivier performance which could only be bettered as evident in “Henry V”. Prot in his simplicity is a traveller of planets who wants to witness human beings, but as Dr Mark questions him further you see another side to Prot which casts a different shadow on proceedings. And it is this shadow cast which demonstrates Spacey at his finest, and is a performance which should have been celebrated more at the time of this films release.

For Bridges, this seems like his typical, run-of-the-mill role. His laid back persona seems ideal for the part of Dr Mark, and many critics could admit that this performance is not his finest. But I would not count myself in this critical camp, as his portrayal of the uptight family man who is dedicated to his work is quite remarkable.

“K-Pax” is the type of film which should never be directed by a simpleton, and Iain Softley is the opposite of this. It deals with a wide and varied range of storylines which are merged together to create a cohesive narrative that even the hicks of America’s Deep South could understand. Such narrative storylines are not exactly easy on the eye, like when Dr Mark discovers more about Prot’s back-story, but Softley deals with such a sensitive subject with care and consideration and uses real human emotion to put across his message which makes you feel sorry for Prot and why he has ended up this way. Not that this latter point indicates Prot’s humanity, but possibly throws in an extra-terrestrial bone to the mix. By watching this movie is the ideal way of answering any doubts about the conclusion of this storyline. And what a conclusion it is!

To those who aren’t into stories about the possibility of other life in the universe might not find this movie to be ideal for you, but outside of this narrative element you find yourself drawn to the other parts of this movie which might be deemed awesome; such as what happened to Prot before entering the sanatorium? Or if Prot is actually insane because if this is the case than what changed his personality? And it has The Dude in it. What more do you want?

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