Sumeet Bal
July 25, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Spacey is promising as an alcoholic philosophy professor who gets the death penalty for allegedly raping and murdering his close friend (Laura Linney), an anti — capital punishment activist. But director Alan Parker kills what could have been a great whodunit with heavy-handed political rhetoric and misuse of a talented all-star cast. Despite his Oscar-gilded abilities, Spacey ultimately fools no one as a sought-after campus hunk, Linney is underused, and Kate Winslet — as the reporter unearthing the truth — is a crying bore. Still, it’s the cheap twist ending that really does Gale in. EXTRAS Skip ’em: Does anyone really need to hear a play-by-play commentary that explains weather conditions and music, but offers little insight into that awful ending?

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