Spalding Gray in His Own Words, One Last Time

12/08/2010 3:00 AM |

And Everything Is Going Fine

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

â�‚�¨Chronicling the life of Spalding Gray as told by Spalding Gray, And Everything is Going Fine is about Spalding Gray. But it’s also about stories—namely, the ones we make up about ourselves. From 120 hours of interviews and performance footage, Steven Soderbergh, who directed one of Gray’s monologue-movies in the 90s, fashions one last master monologue, 90 minutes of clear biographical narrative—no small feat!—from Gray’s New England childhood to the creation of his classic monologues and his late life as a reluctant family man.

Gray was a fine actor, but his raison d’�ƒªtre was his unique talent for converting life into theater—for forging a sort of public psychoanalysis, narcissism indulged from a knowing distance. (He called it “poetic journalism.”) He narrates in a Brahminical lisp, exhibiting a mordant wit that slips easily into poignancy—particularly in the many mentions of death, as we’re now nearing the seventh anniversary of Gray’s presumed-intentional spill from the Staten Island Ferry. (His life story is laced with battles against mental illness, including coping with his Christian Scientist psychomom’s own suicide. The film’s title is ironic.)

Over time, it becomes tricky to separate the Spalding from the story, the life from its telling; the latter begins to overwhelm the former. “Sometimes I don’t know if I’m fictionalizing or not,” Gray says early in the film, highlighting (like recent art-doc Marwencol) how we all transform our lives into narratives, creating personal truths that might not even be “true.” After all, storytelling supplies comforts like structure and meaning to the chaotic and hollow appearance of our existences. “I like telling the story of life,” Gray adds later, “better than I like living it.” But he didn’t just turn his life into a story; he became one himself. The story ended and so did Spalding—not the other way around.

Opens December 10