And Everything Is Going Fine

by Jay Kerr on May 3, 2010

in Documentaries,Film Festivals,Hot Docs

And Everything Is Going Fine

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.


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