K-Pax is a very intriguing film. Is Prot (Kevin Spacey) really an alien, or is he a mentally deranged human who just thinks he is an alien? That is the question that Dr. Powell (Jeff Bridges) must answer before the self proclaimed deadline that Prot sets for his departure from Earth.
As the film unfolds and more evidence is uncovered, both theories grow in credibility. His ability to map from memory the area of the galaxy where his home planet is located indicates a knowledge that no human could possibly possess. Yet the hypnosis sessions lead us to a real person with a very real and traumatic life, filled with devastating events that could have caused such a personality aberration. The ending seems to give the answer, but is just ambiguous enough to make you wonder if you really know. Normally, I don't like lady or tiger endings, but this one is tantalizing. I have my own theory that fits all the clues, but I don't know that my theory is any more correct than anyone else's.
Director Iain Softley (`Wings of the Dove') spins the tale delicately, with great skill. This is a rare example of the director staying in the shadows and inducing outstanding acting performances out of talented actors to let the story dominate. This is not to say that the directing is technically inferior, because it is excellent. However, Softley remains unobtrusive, delivering great power through the use of subtlety, a pleasant change from today's vanguard directors who visually grab and shake the viewer as if to scream, `Look how brilliant I am!'
Kevin Spacey once again delivers a marvelous performance as Prot. This is a part that is extraordinarily demanding, requiring Spacey to render the cool and logical Prot one minute, and then switch gears to conjure his tormented alter ego under hypnosis the next. Spacey is so believable as both alien and human, it makes the viewer's task that much more difficult. Jeff Bridges is also terrific as the relentless psychologist who becomes obsessed with learning the truth about Prot.
This is inspired storytelling for the thoughtful viewer. I rated it a 9/10. If you must have closure at the end of a film, this movie will be very frustrating. However, if you like a fascinating mystery that keeps you thinking long after the credits, you won't be disappointed.