Several years after the 2004 death of actor and writer Spalding Gray, Steven Soderbergh was approached by Gray’s widow, Kathleen Russo, to tell Gray’s life story through a documentary film. Soderbergh was a natural choice, as the director had previously helmed an acclaimed cinematic adaptation of one of Gray’s monologues, Gray’s Anatomy (1997). Gray had, in fact, built his reputation with his autobiographical monologues, performed on stage as sparsely produced one-man shows. Soderbergh accepted the challenge and the result was And Everything is Going Fine, released in 2010 and now on Blu-ray courtesy of The Criterion Collection.
No new footage was shot for the documentary. Working exclusively with existing footage of Gray—including professionally shot performances, television interviews, and home movies—Soderbergh managed to piece together a coherent narrative that conveys Gray’s life almost entirely through the late artist’s own words. Having made his living telling lengthy and incredibly personal stories about his experiences and relationships, Gray left behind a wealth of material to draw from. Interview clips from MTV and the E! network have been included, providing some context to the level of celebrity Gray attained without ever establishing himself as a true household name.
Gray’s prowess as a storyteller is clear throughout the film, even if this is your first ever encounter with him. Themes emerge, chief among them being his mother’s suicide, which followed her two debilitating nervous breakdowns. The film’s title, in fact, comes from a Gray monologue dealing, in part, with his father’s second marriage. We see a clip of the monologue in which Gray depicts his father as being in strong denial that his life has irreversibly changed in the wake of his wife’s suicide. With the exception of mundane inconveniences, his father repeatedly insists, “Everything is going fine.” But clearly Gray saw things another way, and his preoccupation with his mother’s suicide seems to have contributed to his own suicidal fantasies. Another monologue clip finds Gray elaborating on these fantasies, accompanied by laughter from the audience. The laughter seems appropriate given the context and delivery of the performance.