And Everything Is Going Fine (Director: Steven Soderbergh): The late Spalding Gray was a gifted storyteller who became famous for his theatrical monologues. In 1996, Steven Soderbergh directed Gray’s Anatomy which featured Spalding Gray in a hilarious 80-minute film monologue. And Everything Is Going Fine is an intimate portrait of Gray culled from over 90 hours of monologues and interviews.
It seems unusual to make a film about a person without the usual interviews from family and friends, but who better to explain the life of Spalding Gray than Gray himself. For more than 25 years he’s been analyzing his life on the stage with the honesty of a neurotic lunatic. Nothing in his monologues seemed too sacred or off limits.
In several clips he talks openly about his mother’s breakdowns and eventual suicide at age 52. Death was a common theme in his monologues. At one point in the film he mentions how Soderbergh considered him for a part in King Of The Hill. He accepted the role and thought it was perfect for him because the character commits suicide. He worried that his life would end the same way his mother’s did and mentions the anxiety he went through when he turned 52. To him it felt like a countdown to his final destiny.
Gray talks candidly about his relationships and sexual life in a way that is entertaining and at times, uncomfortable. At one point he recounts how his father tried to explain the birds and the bees to him on the golf course – awkward and very funny. Later on he recounts how he wanted his girlfriend Kathy to have an abortion when he found out she was pregnant with their son. He changed his mind and recalls the incredible moment he met his son Forrest for the first time (then 8 months old).
Mental illness plays a large part in Gray’s monologues as well. He talks about his hereditary depression, his therapy sessions and often jokes about being neurotic. Gray’s Anatomy presented him as a hypochondriac investigating alternative medicines for an eye condition. You get the sense that his monologues were an alternative form of therapy where he could fight his demons on the public stage.
He suffered serious injuries in a car accident in 2001, which seemed to intensify the depression he struggled with throughout his life. As a result of his injuries he attempted suicide in 2002. He became tired of talking about himself and began interviewing audience members while he was on stage. The film shows his physical decline and lack of intensity but doesn’t mention his death by apparent suicide in 2004.
In his final interview a dog can be heard howling away in the background as if it were coming from the tortured soul of Gray himself. Gray finds it haunting and it is the perfect way to end a brilliantly-edited film. Forrest Gray provides the musical score over the ending credits of the film which I thought was also a nice touch.