K-Pax


Directed by: Iain Softley
Written by:Charles Leavitt
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Mary McCormack, Alfre Woodard
Released: February 28, 2002
Grade: B+

Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges are two of my favourite actors and it’s a pleasure to see them on screen together in K-Pax.  The film’s style reminded me why I loved Contact (starring Jodie Foster).  Both films explore the concept of alien life but do so in a spiritual way rather than resorting to the overused storylines revolving around a government conspiracy.

Wearing his dark sunglasses, Prot (Spacey) is arrested at a train station for odd behaviour and his lack of identity sees him placed in a mental institution.  There, he talks of his origins on an distant planet named K-Pax and his travels across the universe.  His placid behaviour is a mystery to the medical staff.  There’s no sign of brain damage, no sign of drug use, and yet he talks nonsense which no one believes.

Called in to help, psychiatrist Mark Powell (Bridges) meets Prot and soon becomes fascinated by his story.  Naturally hesitant, Mark soon finds himself believing more and more in Prot’s story and he’s starting to question his ability to look at Prot’s condition objectively.  His wife, Rachel (McCormack), is already frustrated by her husband’s long work hours but now is legitimately worried by his talk of alien life.  Just who is Prot?

Iain Softley (The Wings Of The Dove) has directed a sleepy film that begins ordinarily but then becomes something much deeper.  Spacey and Bridges shares some emotional scenes late in the flick when Prot undergoes hypnosis to dig into his past.  As the patient audience, we’re just as interested as Mark to know the truth.  I was a tad disappointed by the finale’s easy resolution but will say no more as not to spoil it.

The strange title is easy to forget but K-Pax is a solid movie that keeps you alert and builds your curiosity.  Not perfect but the wisdom offered by Prot is valid and worthy of further thought.