Five out of five stars
This movie uses a plot device that has been used many times, the unusual human that claims to be from another planet. In this case, the “alien” is played by Kevin Spacey, he calls himself Prot and he says that his planet of origin is called K-Pax. After a questionable encounter with a woman that was mugged, Prot is placed in the Manhattan psychiatric ward and falls under the care of psychiatrist Dr. Powell, played by Jeff Bridges.
In terms of mannerisms, Prot initially does not seem beyond the bounds of other people that are delusional regarding their origin, yet there are aspects that puzzle Dr. Powell. The initial one is Prot’s description of his home planet and the structure of that solar system. When Powell asks an astrophysicist friend to investigate and Prot is put in front of a panel of leading edge astronomers, Prot recounts some physical aspects of his claimed home planet that have been discovered, but not yet reported in the scientific literature.
Obsessing about Prot’s case, Dr. Powell tracks down a plausible alternative explanation. The conclusion is inherently ambiguous, at the time that Prot has stated that he is going back to K-Pax, very unusual events take place. The viewer is left with no certain conclusion as to whether Prot was just another severely messed up human or truly an alien, as there is significant evidence for both conclusions. Which is the way I wanted the film to end. When my viewing was complete, I spent several minutes going over the evidence for Prot’s extraterrestrial origin.
Spacey and Bridges both carry out excellent performances as they create characters that the viewer cares about. It is clear early that Dr. Powell likely has the most interesting case of his career, as there is enough significant evidence to indicate that Prot may not be of this Earth. Bridges and Spacey both play their obsessions well.