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“I like telling the story of life better than I do living it,” Spalding Gray says somewhat cheerfully yet devastatingly in And Everything Is Going Fine, Steven Soderbergh’s biography of Gray in which he completely removes his Soderbergh-ness from the equation to let his subject tell his own story.
Gray, who died of an apparent suicide in 2004, battled manic depression — handed down from his mother, who took her own life at the age of 52 — but you barely see glimpses of it here. Instead, you’re treated to films of Gray’s famous and very entertaining monologues as well as to interviews with the actor and writer, pieced together in a jumble that merely hints at a linear time line. The film is more obviously organized by subjects, which run the gamut: Gray talks about his parents, discovering and hunting for wine, a homosexual encounter. A lot of material is focused on realizing what he was born to do and, thrillingly, his first moments of validation. (When he recites his day, off the cuff, to fulfill the assignment of a storytelling class, his teacher asks, “Who wrote that?”) And he relishes in his family when he becomes a father late in life, referring to his sons as “glorious accidents.”
Throughout, Gray displays great comic timing and fantastic — if gentle — mimicry, with one of the film’s most joyous moments coming when he reenacts himself, his wife, and his young kids dancing to, of all things, Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping.” The film, whose title is taken from a monologue, is like a highlight reel of Gray’s shows combined with behind-the scenes commentary, making for a brisk and funny 89 minutes. Of course, knowing Gray’s fate tinges it all with sadness. But it helps when Gray, who didn’t believe in any sort of afterlife, asserts the following: “One of the ways to reincarnate is to tell your story, and I get enormous pleasure from that.”