Review

K-PAX Review

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Oct 25, 2001 | 2:02pm EDT

Prot (Kevin Spacey) is an interesting patient for Dr. Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges). On the one hand Prot is an intelligent well-spoken and extremely charming fellow. On the other he is delusional someone who claims he is an alien from the planet K-PAX. But the more Powell talks with his patient the more compelling Prot's story becomes. Prot talks about traveling on beams of light how relationships and "family" are non-existent on K-PAX and how he marvels at our world--with a particular fondness for our produce. At one point Prot even gets the opportunity to show astrophysicists the orbital path of his planet to the amazement of everyone in the room. And our alien friend also has a unique touch with the other mental ward patients helping them to cure each other. Still the good doctor believes he has a job to do and tries to get to the root of Prot's psyche to find out who he really is-even if it destroys Prot in the process. Oscar-winning Spacey is an absolutely mesmerizing actor. He really can do just about anything in a movie and you are compelled to watch him every time he comes on the screen. We are immediately drawn to Spacey's Oscar-caliber performance as Prot trying to decipher if the man is really from another planet or someone deep in a post-traumatic state. But the actor never gives anything away either way. Bridges has the difficult task of playing the straight-and-narrow guy which he handles well enough but for which he is not that well suited. He's better in those larger-than-life roles like his Oscar-nominated performance in The Contender. Here he hangs back to let Spacey shine. There are also some nice turns by the supporting actors playing the other patients in the mental ward as well as Mary McCormack as Dr. Powell's neglected wife. It's a tough thing to sell when you are making a movie revolving basically around two characters-a doctor and his mentally ill patient. Not that it hasn't been done before but usually the story revolves around said crazy person and his/her interaction with the other patients in the hospital as well as the doctor/patient relationship. In K-PAX it's really just Spacey and Bridges' movie mostly Spacey's and the action is at times slow and methodical. But it's a testament to the actors that the film never gets boring. Even as we discover some truths-or so we think-about Prot the film keeps you guessing right up to the last moment. It was also refreshing to see a mental hospital that actually looked fairly cheery. So often in films the wards are dank and depressing with paint chipping off the walls or else incredibly sterile-looking. This mental hospital had charm just like the inhabitants.

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