K-PAX is a novel by Gene Brewer, published in 1996 and is soon to be a movie starring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges.

K-PAX tells the story of prot, a patient in a New York Psychiatric Institute. prot claims to be an alien from the planet K-PAX, a utopian world populated by enlightened beings capable of incredible intellectual and technological acheivements, a world at the exact opposite of the spectrum from EARTH (prot gives gives all planets capitalised names, and all people lowercase names).

prot's doctor is Gene Brewer (the author writes the novel as though it were a factual account). He is convinced that prot is a multiple personality created as a result of a severe personal trauma. As Dr Brewer interviews prot and subjects him to hypnosis, he begins to learn more about the original personality, and the tragic circumstances surrounding prot's emergence.

But at the same time, prot begins to demonstrate abilities nothing short of miraculous, and Brewer begins to wonder whether prot might actually be telling the truth...

K-PAX II: On a Beam of Light was published in 2001 and continues the relationship between prot and Brewer. K-PAX III: The Worlds of prot was published in 2002 completes the trilogy.

K-PAX the movie is a mixed-bag: comedy, melodrama, sci-fi and unadulterated schmaltz, all tied together with a ending that raises more questions than it answers. Coincidentally, it happens to be well-made, and there's a message hidden in the film that in these trying times is perhaps even more resonant.

Kevin Spacey delivers yet another in a series of calculated, competant roles as prot, the being from another planet. Spacey has always brought a certain je ne sais quoi1 to every role he's touched, and that hasn't changed here. Spacey's prot is an energetic and believable invention; one minute, he's downing an entire banana, the next he's, rather convincingly, disputing physical laws. His description of K-PAXian reproductive methods makes for great comedy; his revelations, made under a tightly-watched hypnosis section, manage to be genuinely touching.

Jeff Bridges' role is somewhat trickier. Playing both family man and workaholic would be taxing on regular folk, but throw into the mix a self-professed stranger from a strange land, and the stress multiplies tenfold. Bridges is able to convey all the stress and all the doubt that this situation creates, and in the end, learns a thing or two about himself. This makes up for much of the aforementioned schmaltz, and it's to the credit of the filmmakers that it doesn't collapse the entire film.

And about that ending...the movie invests a lot of time into revealing secrets about prot, even going so far as to have the dear doctor trek to New Mexico to unlock these secrets. Then, with time winding down, the movie does a 360, reaching a conclusion that still leaves the viewer with doubts: "was he or wasn't he?", among them.

Nonetheless, K-PAX is an entertaining two hours that, if nothing proves that Kevin Spacey can do no wrong.

1: go to http://www.salon.com/ent/music/vowe/1998/07/27vowe.html

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