When it was revealed that a film was being made that stared Jeff Bridges and was about an alien (in the guise of a man) visiting earth to study its life forms, most people suspected it might be a long due sequel to 1984’s brilliant Starman. Alas no, but K-Pax is almost equally charming and quirky. Plus there’s the bonus of two of the best character actors working today playing the lead roles in K-Pax, aforementioned Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey.
Kevin Spacey is Prot (pronounced Prote) a K-paxian who is visiting our world, or is he? He is picked up by police in New York and due to his incomprehensible replies to their questions is sent to a Manhattan psychiatry ward where he is assigned to psychiatrist, Dr Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges). As Dr Powell meets and interacts with Prot he is intrigued by the case. Prot shows an unflinching conviction that he is a visiting alien. Powell believes that Prot is totally disillusioned, but is impressed how intelligent and vivid his imagination is. Prot becomes more of an enigma as he continues to believe that he is an alien throughout the treatment, and even manages to show Powell’s astronomer friends details on a recent discovery they have been perplexing over.
As Dr Powell continues to hunt into any background that Prot might or might not have, the case inevitably puts a strain on his marriage to wife, Rachael (Mary McCormack) and with his ignored children.
The doctor, facing not only doubts from his peers and amusing responses from Prot, must also battle against time as Prot announces his departure schedule. Dr Powell needs to find out, more for himself than any psychiatric help for his patient, whether if Prot is an alien visiting from another planet or if he’s just a simple delusional individual.
With respect to the fundamental story of K-Pax, there is a heaping of ambiguity pushed at the audience during the film. Not to say that this is a bad thing, but not everyone will appreciate it; some will also be very disappointed with the nebulous ending which leaves the individual watching to determine their own conclusion.
With a cast member such as Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges the performances are great. Its interesting to see Bridges in the opposite role that he played in Starman, and he works very well with Spacey which is essential to the films success. Spacey is mesmerising as Prot, completely calm and manages to show a range of emotion while acting from behind his shades (K-Pax isn’t as bright as Earth, hence the shades – Prot obviously having an answer for everything).
K-Pax is a long film and does tend to drag in places; more often and not it seems that the ‘drags’ happen during scenes when Spacey is absent. Overall an enjoyable film that might limit its popularity due to the ambiguous ending that many people will find unsatisfactory. Don’t let that stop you, plus it’s a great date film (you can discuss the ending afterwards without having to suffer through some ‘chick-flick’ instead! – always a winner!)
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