K-Pax (2001) – Originally written August 2003
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Know what? over the last few weeks, I’ve written reviews for a good few films & despite some of them being awkward to write about, none have been so awkward to analyse & review as K-Pax. There’s a reason for this. Despite the beautiful cinematography & excellent acting (Spacey needs a dry performance & he delivers it well), this film is awkward as it’s something I could talk about for hours. Nowadays everything I watch or read or even just witness in the street, I consider it’s metaphysical, moral & existentialistic standpoints. This film gets me to consider Descartes’ notion of Mind-Body Duallism (the mind being immaterial & the body material, aka the mind and body are seperate), it gets me to consider the notion of the universe (a quote at the end by Spacey particularly affects this) & it gets me to question how society treats people we consider “insane” (this influences me in a similar way as “One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest” does). The problem is that despite being happy to discuss these topics, they aren’t particularly relevant in a review about a film. So here goes, an attempt to review K-Pax without actually going off on one on the nature of the universe.
Kevin Spacey is (in my view) easily one of the greatest actors of the last twenty years. Whilst his performance is dry (it needs to be for the role) in this film in comparison to stunning performances in Usual Suspects (also a bit dry) & especially in American Beauty, this performance is worthy of his name.
Visually this film is amazing & the script is excellent (as to be expected when a film is adapted from a successful book). This sided with the acting & what more is there to say?
I suppose two things to say are the admitted flaws with this film. Whilst I do have nothing wrong to say for it, I confess there are moments of a bit too obscurity. A friend of mine complained that certain parts of this film are so blatantly out of this world that they almost force a conclusion upon you, rather than really leaving us with a completely open conclusion. Whilst his point has great merit, I can’t help but feel that one or two ten minute scenes are not worth condemning a 115 minute film. Even Casablanca had 10 minutes or so of dullness & that is easily one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) films of all time. So for 100 minutes of excellence, I think it’s worth excusing 10-15 minutes of technical fault.
One final note, I’ve never actually read any of the books (although they’re now going to be added to the pile in the corner of my room which need reading), but on the dvd there is an alternative ending. If anyone would be able to tell me which ending is used in the books (as if it matters) then I’d be grateful. Like most good films however, I do think that yet again the creators have chosen the right scenes to cut out of the movie & the right ending to go with. So theres another reason why the creators of this movie should be proud.
In the end of the day, all I can say is that k-Pax is well worth watching, but don’t be surprised if you come out of it & spend the next however many days questioning the universe and other topics brought up in the film. Watch this film and enjoy! Now I’m going to go buy the books and perhaps actually get round to reading them.