Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: First Trailer For 'Ted 2' Delivers New Poop & Pee Jokes With Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane & Amanda Seyfried Watch: First Trailer For 'Ted 2' Delivers New Poop & Pee Jokes With Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane & Amanda Seyfried Joss Whedon Says The Comic Book Movie Industry Has "Intractable Sexism" & Fox Has The Best Female Marvel Characters Joss Whedon Says The Comic Book Movie Industry Has "Intractable Sexism" & Fox Has The Best Female Marvel Characters Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Watch: Anton Yelchin & Berenice Marlohe Have A '5 To 7' Romance In New Trailer Watch: Anton Yelchin & Berenice Marlohe Have A '5 To 7' Romance In New Trailer Sundance Review: Evel Knievel Documentary 'Being Evel' Is A Death-Defying Treat Sundance Review: Evel Knievel Documentary 'Being Evel' Is A Death-Defying Treat Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: 'True Story' Starring James Franco, Jonah Hill & Felicity Jones Sundance Review: 'True Story' Starring James Franco, Jonah Hill & Felicity Jones Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Sundance: Get Ready To Dance In Clip From 'Z For Zachariah' With Chris Pine, Margot Robbie, And Chiwetel Ejiofor Sundance: Get Ready To Dance In Clip From 'Z For Zachariah' With Chris Pine, Margot Robbie, And Chiwetel Ejiofor Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2015 The 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2015 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 20 Best Films Of 2014 The 20 Best Films Of 2014 Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' All The Songs In Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' Including Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Coldplay, Wilco & More All The Songs In Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' Including Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Coldplay, Wilco & More 21 Movies About Weird, Kinky Or Compulsive Sex 21 Movies About Weird, Kinky Or Compulsive Sex From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The Playlist Bares All: 20 Unforgettable Nude Scenes The Playlist Bares All: 20 Unforgettable Nude Scenes 16 Great Revenge Movies Worth Hunting Down 16 Great Revenge Movies Worth Hunting Down

Review: 'And Everything Is Going Fine' Is A Deeply Fascinating & Satisfying Closing Chapter

Photo of Christopher Bell By Christopher Bell | The Playlist December 6, 2010 at 3:46AM

Spitting out detailed and personal monologues in a sometimes-comfortable-sometimes-manic fashion, Spalding Gray was one of the most engaging talkers of our time. His minimalist style was deeply intimate, eschewing any kind of tool or prop in favor instead of spilling his guts out on stage. He quickly established such a connection with the audience (even going as far as interviewing audience members on stage) during his performances that calling it a "relationship" doesn't feel right -- "friendship" is a better word. Sadly, Gray took his own life in 2004 due to depression, and his absence is felt: there's not another performer like him out there, and it's likely that there never will be. The oeuvre he's left behind is a legacy; there are many writings but the printed word does no justice to his engrossing poise and voice. The best work was documented in four films "Swimming to Cambodia" (Jonathan Demme), "Terrors of Pleasure" (Thomas Schlamme), "Monster in a Box" (Nick Broomfield), and "Gray's Anatomy" (Steven Soderbergh), which capture his persona perfectly. Seeking to have a proper farewell, Gray's widow Kathleen Russo handed Soderbergh over 100 hours of video and he set out to cut an autobiographical tale told through many different Gray monologues and interviews. Behold the fruits of his labor, the 90-minute "And Everything Is Going Fine," an often hilarious and sometimes saddening final word from the late, great entertainer.
1


Spitting out detailed and personal monologues in a sometimes-comfortable-sometimes-manic fashion, Spalding Gray was one of the most engaging talkers of our time. His minimalist style was deeply intimate, eschewing any kind of tool or prop in favor instead of spilling his guts out on stage. He quickly established such a connection with the audience (even going as far as interviewing audience members on stage) during his performances that calling it a "relationship" doesn't feel right -- "friendship" is a better word. Sadly, Gray took his own life in 2004 due to depression, and his absence is felt: there's not another performer like him out there, and it's likely that there never will be. The oeuvre he's left behind is a legacy; there are many writings but the printed word does no justice to his engrossing poise and voice. The best work was documented in four films "Swimming to Cambodia" (Jonathan Demme), "Terrors of Pleasure" (Thomas Schlamme), "Monster in a Box" (Nick Broomfield), and "Gray's Anatomy" (Steven Soderbergh), which capture his persona perfectly. Seeking to have a proper farewell, Gray's widow Kathleen Russo handed Soderbergh over 100 hours of video and he set out to cut an autobiographical tale told through many different Gray monologues and interviews. Behold the fruits of his labor, the 90-minute "And Everything Is Going Fine," an often hilarious and sometimes saddening final word from the late, great entertainer.

The film opens on an empty chair for a few moments before the performer takes his seat and begins the show. Aside from the overly literal interpretation of this -- that the director is placing the movie audience into the theater audience, making us wait for our show -- it also has a much more weighty feeling. In that very brief amount of time, the loss and longing are appropriately felt, and it sets the tone for the rest of the film. Sure, we have Spalding doing his usual schtick, but the finality of the movie is very much felt throughout, such as an anecdote involving his brother asking their Mom if death was "forever and ever." A less intelligent helmer would have dropped the ball and let it get much too depressing, but the ever-prolific Soderbergh instead maneuvers these feelings into a greater appreciation of Spalding's work. Just like the heavy metal band Cinderella once said, "You don't know what you got til it's gone."


Mashing various different monologues and interviews, Spud starts at his childhood and works through his years as a theater student, a struggling actor, a neurotic traveler, an unfaithful husband, and finally, a family man. Soderbergh's hand is light, allowing the various clips to tell the story without the crutch of narration or text interludes. Despite all the cutting among different times (some so radical that he jumps 10 years in age), the storytelling is seamless and it actually feels like something that was devised by the writer himself rather than being clever editing. What also helps is the impeccable flow, which never meanders but also never feels rushed -- it hits a good stride and keeps things consistent without faltering for a second.

Aside from being a solid closing chapter to his work (including a really poignant, beautiful ending that works in a musical coda by his son Forrest Gray), this is also probably the best film for a newcomer interested in checking out Gray's work. Past films have been relatively straightforward and, for better or worse, simplistic, focusing on the storyteller and refusing to jazz things up with fancy camera aesthetics. Of course, they are all solid works and very respectful, but some might be put off by the rather simple nature of the movies. "And Everything Is Going Fine" is also free of trickery in the same sense, but the way it bounces around various different moments and moods is much more welcoming and, if given a chance, is likely to turn new viewers onto his older work when they are accustomed to his behavior after watching the film.

The last portion of the film hones in on the man's car accident in Ireland, as he hobbles around on crutches but still manages to make show appearances with his family. Fans will already know at this point that he is depressed, but as a complex human being, he seems exactly the same. It's only in a very subtle moment that Soderbergh hints at the man's pain, where a woman asks Gray how he is doing and he sincerely replies "so-so." The honesty and choice of words is piercing, especially for such a throwaway question that most people (especially to strangers) simply reply "good." It's these moments that prove the film to not only be the best of its brethren, but also a great example of excellence in the medium.

"And Everything Is Going Fine" is a finely constructed film, when it could've so easily been a phoned-in effort or an exploitation of a tragic suicide, ripe for the tearjerker crowd. Gray fans will be head over heels and newcomers will enjoy this gateway into the rest of the man's universe, while both will enjoy the portrayal of the complexities of human nature that are often overlooked in this type of film. [A]

This article is related to: Review, And Everything Is Going Fine


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates