It's not a new movie, but K-Pax is one of my favorites. In so many ways, the film represents so many things that life is made of, and I can only imagine that the book is similarly filled. It touches on the mysteries of the universe, of life, love, tragedy, and the pseudo sciences of mental health. Yes, I called psychiatry and psychology pseudo science despite the advances of both in the last century simply because there is no magic cure all for any mental illness; each case is more like an artwork that needs to be balanced, which is sometimes impossible, other times impossibly simple.
Any way, from an acting perspective, both Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges are favorite actors of mine from earlier works. The first performance of Spacey's that I can recall being extremely impressed with was from the Usual Suspects. For those of you not familiar with U.S., I highly recommend watching it. Everyone else knows why I love the film, and in particular why I love Spacey's role. Enough said. Bridges goes back further with me, however. I first saw and was impressed by Bridges in Starman. Yes, it's another sci-fi flick, this time with Bridges playing an alien that created a human body from DNA taken from a hair sample of a grieving widow. Perhaps it was Bridge's ability to play a complete innocent in that film that links me to his character in K-PAX, a know it all psychiatrist that is learning to be human from someone claiming to be an alien.
I find the little details of this movie fascinating; piecing together the plot points and hints to this story is rewarding. You can easily make the case that Prot, Spacey's character, is merely insane, but much of what he does and says is makes his claims equally plausible. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is the complete lack of special effects: it's a science fiction thinker rather than thriller.It tugs at your heart and mind rather than blowing you away with dazzling 3D effects. K-PAX, in my mind, will forever be a better science fiction film than Avatar was, despite the huge difference in production costs. Hell, I'd go as far as to say it's a far better film period. (I'm not ragging on Avatar, it was nice, but it wasn't what everyone hyped it up to be.)
Even the tragic parts of the film, the murder of Robert Porter's family, touches you, as you feel the anger, sorrow, loss and despair that he did. You fully understand his loss of will to live as he wanders to the river behind his home to die.
Then the film turns around and offers hope: though Prot leaves, he seems to have taken Bess along with him. The psych ward where they've been living during the film is seemingly inescapable, so how could any one leave? Yet Bess is certainly gone, while Prot leaves behind the body of Robert Porter to be cared for by Bridge's character. That's in addition to help Prot has given to a number of patients, allowing some to go free into the world again after years of confinement.
K-PAX touches me emotionally, and despite my awareness of how and why it's doing it, it manages to do it nonetheless. That's what a good movie or story should do, and I wish there were more films like it.