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The Life of David Gale Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 2.0

    out of 100

    Generally unfavorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 0

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Unlike "Dead Man Walking" and many honorable dramas before it, "David Gale" has nothing coherent to say about capital punishment, or anything else. It's a dead film lurching.

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Soon, the audience feels its own sense of despair -- for a movie that might have worked but didn't.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    A self-righteous mishmash that can't decide whether to be a tribute to the fanatical leftist passion that thrives in college towns, an indictment of that very same fanaticism, or a ghoulishly didactic snuff-video thriller.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    By turns brilliant and simplistic, moving and preposterous, the movie takes one of the ultimate hot-button American issues -- the morality of capital punishment -- and dissolves it into a volatile mix of psychological thriller and socio-political fable.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The picture is neither flawless nor foolproof, but it's smart and tight enough to keep audiences off-balance and entertained for the running length.

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  • See all The Life of David Gale reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Not for kids 17 and under

An overripe melodrama -- a time waster.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie includes very mature material. There are sexual references and explicit sexual situations, including rape charges. A student offers a teacher sex for a passing grade (he declines). There is also non-sexual nudity and footage that may show a murder. Characters use strong language and one abuses alcohol, ultimately becoming an alcoholic. The movie also features suicide in what could be seen as an approving manner.

  • Families can talk about the death penalty. They might want to look at information on sites like Death Penalty Info and Pro Death Penalty to learn more about the current debate on that issue. Families should also talk about how David's choices relate to the lecture he gave his class. Is our greatest happiness in dreaming of future happpiness? What must we do to make our lives meaningful? How do our values inform our choices? What will David's son think about his choices?

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Explicit snuff film-style footage. A suicide.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Explicit sex, sexual references, rape charges, non-sexual nudity.

  • language false4

    Language: Some very strong language.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Character abuses alcohol