13 April 2002 | shoeless-1
A Charming, Hidden Gem Of A Movie
It never ceases to amaze me how movies like this get made.
No car crashes, no explosions, no pyrotechnical performances with people screaming at each other or themes/bravura megalomaniacal rants that self-consciously have "Please nominate me for an Oscar" whispering in the Academy's ear.
No, instead we're given a quiet, enormously fascinating, compassionate, well-intentioned film that sits back and realizes that above beautiful cinematography (Which it has in spades), before performances which nail you to your seat (Which it carries in abundance), the most important thing of all is story. And K-Pax despite all "common sense" in Hollywood, throws out every safe-bet to get a movie produced and gives us just that. Wonderful story. Marvelous story.
I don't need to talk about that. Everyone from the science fiction fans (Who appreciated the depth and seriousness of the subject matter) to the warm n' fuzzy brigade (Who "Get the message" of the movie) have done their part to praise the various facets of a film that refuses to be categorized and is simply a very, very good story.
And perhaps because of that, because no one knows precisely what it is, just that's it's wonderful--Not unlike Prot himself--the people who came to this picture and created it have made a film that doesn't slant itself one way or the other but does a wonderful job of juggling seemingly disparate elements--the science, the drama, the message,the psychological aspects--and approach the movie fresh-eyed and innocent. The cinematography is, at times, simply beautiful and inspiring. And Iain Softley obviously had an enormous respect for the material because when it came time to tell the stories and let it speak through the actors, he pulled back, kept it simple and left the audience to witness to incredible performances by Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey to leave viewers with the same feeling; the acting is beautiful and inspiring.
Kevin Spacey's "Prot" is a wonderfully understated character with the gentle, knowing presence of an outsider who understands. It is his very calmness and seeming omnipotence that make his emotional outbursts, when they come, that much more intense and painful for audiences. He brings to the story the delicate sense of ironic humanity that comes from someone who may not actually lay claim to being human.
Jeff Bridges provides the warm, tired, cynical but still hopeful center of the film that provides reality to Spacey's quiet otherworldliness. Jeff Bridges is the much needed Everyman of this movie who is like so many of us out there; intelligent, wanting to do the right thing, essentially a good person at heart who is perhaps little lost and a LOT tired of the shackling nature of every day life in a first world nation. He asks the hard questions, he clings to his perceived reality. But he also wants to help. And all he's looking for is an excuse, some kind of spark to ignite his hope.
I suspect that K-Pax is going to occupy the same space in most people's hearts as that of a good book. I can't see it raking in buzillions of dollars, despite the fact that far, FAR less worthy films do that every summer. Instead, it will carry along, fondly or even maniacally supported by lovers of the film by word of mouth, quietly finding a new audience and making change where ever it goes. It's a gentle, engaging, quiet film that punches viewers between the eyes not through editing, action or shouting, but through that most basic and often forgotten art of cinema, finding a strong story and just letting it tell itself.