Take me to your leader. Jeff and Kevin have a chat...
dir Iain Softley
scr Charles Leavitt
with Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Mary McCormack, Alfre Woodard, David Patrick Kelly, Saul Williams, Peter Gerety, Celia Weston, Conchata Ferrell, Ajay Naidu, Tracy Vilar, Melanee Murray
release US 26.Oct.01; UK 12.Apr.02
Universal 01/US 2h00

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
change the way you look at the world British director Softley (Wings of the Dove) takes on two American acting greats in this earnest psychological drama, which has rather disturbing similarities with the gorgeous 1986 Argentine film Man Facing Southeast. But never mind. Spacey plays Prot, a guy who mysteriously appears in Grand Central Station claiming to be an alien from the planet K-Pax. Soon he has a swarm of psychiatrists, including top guy Dr Mark Powell (Bridges), trying to diagnose his own quirky neurosis. But try as they might, they can't prove that he's not a spaceman!

The film starts promisingly, with the intriguing premise set out using clever directoral choices, John Mathieson's lovely sun-drenched cinematography and an unusual, effective score by Ed Shearmur. Bridges gives another brilliantly subtle turn as a man struggling with inner demons even as he's trying to help others. Spacey is a bit more problematic, playing the offbeat Prot as a cross between Rain Man and Forrest Gump. (I mean honestly: he's been on earth for four years and doesn't know how to eat a banana?) Then things start to slip further as the film drags out its conclusion--the music morphs into a tinkling piano score and the Big Important Message gets painfully obvious. Still, the premise is engaging enough to keep us gripped; the film is always entertaining ... but it never lives up to its promise and talks down to us shamelessly. Completely unlike Man Facing Southeast, which is worth searching for.
themes, violence, language cert 12 15.Nov.01

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "I have to say right up front that Kevin Spacey was wonderful in his role; he's an extremely gifted actor, and really drew me in. Jeff Bridges was very good also, but was definitely outshone by Kevin. The story was intriguing; Is he or isn't he? But I felt that the film as a whole was uneven as far as the blend of comedy and drama. Sometimes having both elements works really well; American Beauty and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest come to mind. And K-Pax certainly had overtones of Cuckoo's Nest. I just don't think it quite achieved what the others did. I would still recommend it, I just won't rave about it." --IndigoJen, Los Angeles 29.Oct.01

change the way you look at the world "Opening scene: a busy train station and a beggar sitting in a wheelchair looks up, sees a beam of light and suddenly this guy wearing sunglasses is there. He blinks, where did he come from? The cops end up arresting him and he is admitted to the nut ward because he claims to have ridden a beam of light from K-Pax. He is nuts, right? Or is he? Spacey is awesome, and Bridges ends up assigned to help this 'alien'. Everyone begins to believe, or to question his own beliefs. This 'alien' is actually helping the other patients, and is so convincing! I really liked this movie, and felt that Spacey did an awesome job - right up to the end, it keeps you guessing! I think you should go see this movie, it has a nice surprise at the end." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 3.Nov.01

2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall