Addled but rather enlightened alien from K-PAX, Prot (Kevin Spacy), is brought to a mental institution, where Dr. Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges) attempts to piece together the mysterious and extraordinarily convincing persona of an alien who has what seems at first to be amnesia about his past.
After some rather amazing and convincing evidence, Mark becomes convinced that Prot is for-real (as in from another planet), and simultaneously succumbs to his psychiatric training in trying to solve the mental mystery as to why this alien has a human form and what happened before he appeared here.
He's working under a deadline. Prot is convinced that he will be going back to K-PAX on a specific day and time. And he decides to take one of his fellow committed patients with him. One mystery is who will Prot choose, the other is whether Prot will really leave.
The ending leaves a lingering question in the average human mind as to who Prot really is, and what brought him here.
Note: The movie has a few graphic scenes and may be distressing to people who are already traumatized. It is not suitable for children who are naieve of harsh realities of life.
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Below are spoilers about the movie.
by The Crisses
K-PAX is a great movie to talk about on a site like this one -- but difficult to tell people what's going on without spoiling the movie. Hopefully you've seen it --
In a more time-ordered story, rather than with flashbacks, unearthed evidence, anecdotal and recounted tales:
Robert Porter (also portrayed by Kevin Spacy) had a few bumps in life and, throughout, he called on the alien Prot to come to his aid. Prot would take over his life/body for him for the interim then go back to his home (the planet K-PAX). Prot retained memory of these incidents and enjoyed visiting Earth and helping his friend.
Robert got himself in trouble with a woman, they had a child together and were married, and he loved them. One day when Robert came from work he found both dead, his wife raped, and the bastard was still home. He broke the rapist's neck, and his own spirit. Entirely traumatized and spiritually distressed, he went to a nearby river and jumped in it -- hoping to die. Prot came to his aid. There are very graphic scenes from this in the movie -- making it a problem for children and maybe abused persons.
Robert didn't drown, and Prot took over his body/mind and stayed for 5 years -- one day he came to a train depot/hub where he witnessed a mugging, and was taken in as a witness, but soon found to be too addled/amnesiac to give proper identification.
Prot is admitted to a psychiatric hospital, to determine who he is. His doctor is the co-star of the movie, Dr. Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges). Mark doesn't want to believe Prot, but Prot knows things he probably shouldn't know about astronomy, and Mark tests his knowledge of astronomy by correlating his knowledge with some lead astronomy team who are incredibly awed by Prot's knowledge, and acknowledge that it's highly unlikely that anyone on Earth would know what Prot knows about his home star system.
Prot disappears from the hospital for several days because he has scheduled a tour of other countries. There are no signs of escape from the hospital, and he returns just as mysteriously.
Still craving to solve the mystery through his own science, the doctor uses hypnosis to get some answers from Prot who is protecting Robert from being uncovered -- Robert is in NO condition to be found too soon. Prot gives enough hints that Mark goes on a journey to find out whose body Prot wears. He suspects that Robert has done something awful to his family. He finds out that he's technically a wanted man for a crime any man should commit, and that the sherriff local to Robert's abandoned and disheveled ex-home does not want to arrest him for having killed his wife's murderor. He would rather say that Robert drowned that night he disappeared and leave it at that.
The doctor returns to the hospital where the patients are up in arms about who will return to K-PAX with Prot. The day comes when Prot leaves the body and Robert is left a vegetable -- no mind to speak of -- entirely mentally broken, catatonic, unresponsive. Prot leaves the body behind, and everyone can tell Prot has left. One other person from the institution is missing, bodily. The patients are convinced she went with Prot, and true-to-form there are no signs of escape.