Disgraced philosophy professor and anti-capital punishment advocate David Gale (Spacey) awaits death by injection for the rape and murder of his beloved colleague Constance (Linney). As the clock ticks, Gale protests his innocence in flashback to flinty reporter Bitsey Bloom (Winslet). The condemned man's lack of storytelling economy gives early warning that he's not out for standard redemption. He's in no hurry to complete his narrative, an alcohol-fuelled tailspin encompassing the decay of his marriage and a false rape charge by a student. As the twists and turns mount in Bitsey's investigation (she also obtains a videotape of Constance's horrific demise), the movie goes from gruelling to galling, with Parker employing his usual strongarm methods. Is this, one wonders at the end, an overheated journalistic thriller, a dippy love story or just an incoherent screed?