SXSW FILM 2010
By Don Simpson | April 6, 2010
Director: Steven Soderbergh
The monologist’s posthumous autobiography, as “directed” (more like compiled or sculpted) by Steven Soderbergh, is entirely composed of archival performance and interview footage of Spalding Gray. Most of this footage has been seen before by ardent Gray fans, but Soderbergh forms a story that delves deep into Gray’s psyche and reveals the man behind the curtain. And Everything is Going Fine is essentially a eulogy for Gray, given by Gray himself.
We may have assumed through the years that Gray was telling us humorously comedic and anecdotal stories, but Soderbergh reveals that Gray was being incredibly personal and revealing. Gray’s life was an open book – everything was fair game for him to re-cycle, re-use and re-tell. Soderbergh’s selected footage, which spans approximately 25 years of Gray’s life, shows mortality and suicide was an all too common theme of Gray’s inherently personal monologues. For example: there is footage from one of Gray’s monologues in the 1990s in which he expresses his anxiety over turning 52 – which happens to be the age that his mother killed herself (the same mother that soothed a young Spalding to sleep with the comforting reminder that death is forever). In a way, this is like listening to the lyrics of Nick Drake, Kurt Cobain or Elliott Smith after their respective suicides and discovering how revealing their words truly were. As with Drake, Cobain and Smith, we should have seen Gray’s suicide coming. In fact, I think that many of us did.
I appreciate the story that Soderbergh was able to form with his edit, but I would have much preferred to watch Gray’s monologues in their entirety. I, for one, can never get too much of Spalding Gray; but I did expect something else from Soderbergh. I was a bit under-whelmed (the first time Soderbergh has ever had an under-whelming effect on me). I expected something more, something clever, something new. (The one undeniably Soderberghian trait of And Everything is his clever showcasing of the variety of video formats and styles utilized across the decades.)
It is also worth noting that And Everything was made with the close involvement of Gray’s wife, Kathy Russo; and the couple’s son, Forrest Gray, contributes to the soundtrack.