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Two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey and Academy Award nominee Jeff Bridges star in this spellbinding, often humorous story of a mysterious stranger who defies convention, puzzles the experts and leaves everyone searching for the truth. A stranger who calls himself Prot (Spacey) seemingly appears out of nowhere following a disturbance at New York's Grand Central Station. Claiming to come from the distant planet K-PAX, Prot draws the attention of jaded Dr. Powell (Bridges), whose initial skepticism soon turns to fascination and amazement. Even a team of leading scientists are at a loss to explain Prot's detailed knowledge of the star system he calls home. But with Prot's return to K-PAX fast approaching, the search for answers intensifies and the mystery takes on pulse-quickening proportions. Featuring unforgettable performances and surprising turns, it's a thrilling story that "Keeps you guessing right to the end!" (ABC Radio)
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Basically Prot turns up out of nowhere; yet many things can be explained. Then again many things can not be explained. As the people that deal with him vacillate as to his nature, others accept him and are better off for the experience.
This leaves you with the question: "Is he a man, alien... or savior?
The story stars two of my favorite actors, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges. They put on these roles like a comfortable pair of shoes and it isn't long before we feel we've known them for years. Every actor brings their best work to the show and you can't help but be interested and drawn into the story. Whether you believe Prot is real or Robert Porter is just a very tortured man, there are plenty of ambiguities for everyone.
I usually like a movie to be tied up nicely and all the loose ends resolved by the time the credits role. K-Pax is the exception. I appreciated the director laying out the wonderful story with its drama, humor and sadness and letting us draw our own conclusions based on the events as they unfold.
Whatever conclusion you arrive at, K-Pax will entertain you with its intelligent script, wonderful actors and must have music.
This 2001 movie (120 minutes) consists of eighteen scenes. It is based on the novel of the same title by Gene Brewer. Like the novel, this movie is part mystery, part comedy, and part human drama.
The story is about a man who claims to come from the utopian world called K-PAX (a planet he says is in the constellation Lyra). This man is the prot-agonist of the movie and calls himself Prot (Kevin Spacey).
Excellent cinematography is one of the highlights of this movie. For example, the way Prot (pronounced pr-OAT) is introduced to the movie viewer is truly amazing. At the beginning of of the movie, we find ourselves in a busy and crowded train station and gradually the sunlight coming through the station windows brightens. Then the crowd parts and we see Prot standing in the center of the station floor with his sunglasses on. It's as if he entered the station "on a beam of light."
Eventually, Prot ends up in a mental institution and the psychiatrist that treats him is Dr. Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges). Most of the movie is concerned with the interaction and relationship that develops between Prot and Powell.
The acting, especially among the above two actors, is another highlight of this movie. Spacey does a superb job of getting across Prot's wit, humor, and extensive knowledge (especially in sciences like astronomy and physics). He also gets across Prot's passion for eating fruit. Bridges, as the psychiatrist Powell, does a great job in trying to analyze Prot. Powell finds Prot quite rational and later admits that this patient is "the most convincing delusional I've ever seen."
One of the best and most colorful scenes occurs at a planetarium where Prot demonstrates to some distinguished astonomers and astrophysicists that he knows the precise orbital pattern of his home planet in a newly discovered star system. The thing is he should not know this information! As well, Prot demonstrates certain otherworldly abilities. Thus Powell and the movie viewer don't know if Prot is indeed an extraterrestrial or a traumatized human.
Prot has a positive influence on all the people he meets especially on Dr. Powell, his family, and other patients in the mental institution. This gives the movie a certain warmth.
Suspense is created when Prot tells Powell that he must eventually return to K-PAX. As well, even though all his fellow patients want to go with him to his utopian world, he states that one can only come with him. As the announced "departure" date approaches, the question asked by Powell is: "What will happen when this day arrives?" As well, the other patients wonder whom Prot will choose to go with him.
This movie is perfect for the first 80 minutes. It retains its wit and humor for that time. After this, the movie seems to lose its humor and becomes serious. For about 15 of the remaining 40 minutes, Powell does some investigative footwork and he has no further interaction with Prot. In my opinion, this was a mistake since (as mentioned above) this story revolves around the interaction between Powell and Prot. (Note that the novel never loses its humor until the very end and an investigative reporter does all the investigative footwork thus allowing Powell and Prot to maintain their interaction.) However, some movie viewers may forgive this because the story is so engrossing.
The ending is well done. The movie ends on an ambiguous note and leaves you wondering. (However, some viewers may not think that the ending is ambiguous.) An ambiguous ending is also found in the novel.
Thus this movie ends and the end credits start rolling. The movie is over. Right? Wrong! I'm not sure why this was done (and it seems that other reviewers never noticed this), but the movie actually continues AFTER the end credits have stopped!! (I found this out by accident.) For about a minute, we have a scene (with no dialogue) where Powell is looking through a telescope at a constellation. Readers of the novel will understand what this means but those who have not read the novel will probably not understand its significance. Then the movie ends.
Yet another highlight of this movie is its music. In a word, it's--beautiful. It is hard to describe but I might call it "quiet new age." This music seems to heighten the emotion experienced in each scene.
Finally, you don't have to read the novel to understand this movie. However, if you want to understand its finer nuances, I recommend that you read the novel first.
In conclusion, this movie is one that has extraordinary acting, cinematography, and music. Be sure not to miss this magical movie so you can experience what it's like to "catch a beam of light."