The reportage is vastly more quirky and personal in And Everything Is Going Fine, Steven Soderbergh’s portrait of master monologist Spalding Gray. Best known for the performance doc Swimming To Cambodia, Gray was a groundbreaking actor who took his ability as a storyteller and shaped it into a new art form where the actor became subservient to the writer. “I’m using myself to play myself,” says Gray at one point; it’s impossible not to admire those glitteringly polished monologues that raised self-absorption to vaulting levels of creativity.
Everything is culled from a wide variety of sources, ranging from home movies to footage of various performances and interviews with journalists like Charlie Rose. Because Gray’s subject was himself and his reaction to things, Soderbergh had an abundance of material from which to weave a compelling biographical tapestry. Gray famously killed himself seven years ago, and it’s haunting to listen to him discuss his mother’s increasing mental derangement and her eventual suicide when Gray was still a young man. Gray admits to being a fearful manic-depressive, and says that performing a monologue gives him a feeling of control that he otherwise lacks. His sweetness, fragility and candour becomes increasingly poignant as his brilliant life heads to its final curtain. M