Gray Matters (2006)

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Gray Matters: Directed by Sue Kramer. With Heather Graham, Bridget Moynahan, Tom Cavanagh, Molly Shannon. They finish each other’s sentences, dance like Fred and Ginger, and share the same downtown loft–the perfect couple? Not exactly. Gray and Sam, are a sister and brother so compatible and inseparable that people actually assume they are dating. Mortified, they both agree they must branch out and start searching for love. He’ll look for a guy for her and she’ll look for a gal for him.

“While watching u0026quot;Gray Mattersu0026quot; – which marks the film-making debut of writer/director Sue Kramer – I kept wondering if maybe I hadnu0026#39;t somehow stumbled back into u0026quot;Puccini for Beginners,u0026quot; a movie Iu0026#39;d seen a few weeks earlier, since both are oddly similar, equally implausible tales of Manhattan yuppies involved in romantic triangles of the bisexual kind.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eGray and Sam are siblings who not only live in the same apartment and spend most of their free time together but are so emotionally attached to one another that people often mistake them for a romantic couple. As if that werenu0026#39;t queasy enough, the screenplay ups the ante by having the hitherto heterosexual Gray suddenly u0026quot;discoveru0026quot; sheu0026#39;s a lesbian when she falls for Samu0026#39;s gorgeous new wife, Charlie (yes, I know all this can be a bit confusing, but Charlie is a woman).u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAs with u0026quot;Puccini,u0026quot; most of what happens in u0026quot;Gray Mattersu0026quot; feels contrived and artificial. We donu0026#39;t believe for a second that two seemingly rational people like Sam and Charlie would become engaged after only a single date, or that even an indecisive ditz like Gray would be this in-the-dark about her own sexuality.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThus, with so little of the storyline grounded in anything even closely resembling reality, we find ourselves detached from the characters and indifferent to their fates. Thatu0026#39;s no denigration of the lead players – Heather Graham, Thomas Cavanaugh and Bridget Monahan – all of whom are appealing and likable in their various roles. And there are some sharp supporting performances by Molly Shannon, Alan Cumming, and Sissy Spacek as Grayu0026#39;s loopy therapist (though there is a brief cameo appearance by singer Gloria Gaynor that is pure unadulterated pandering). Moreover, New York City looks all sparkly and shiny as seen through the lens of cinematographer John S. Bartleyu0026#39;s camera.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWith its countless references to 40u0026#39;s musicals and romantic comedies, u0026quot;Gray Mattersu0026quot; clearly sees itself as both an homage and a throwback to the metier and style of those earlier films. But we are obviously living in different times, and the labored setups and screwball comedy devices that worked so well in the past feel pretty darned anachronistic and forced when employed today. My feeling is that if youu0026#39;re going to make a modern romantic comedy, one that deals with such u0026quot;contemporaryu0026quot; issues as coming out and sexual identity, then make a movie that actually feels modern. Donu0026#39;t try to tuck it safely away in the past, then expect us to take any of it seriously. Despite itu0026#39;s taking on those relatively gutsy issues, u0026quot;Gray Mattersu0026quot; really doesnu0026#39;t exist in anyoneu0026#39;s world, and certainly not in the racially and economically diverse world of 21st Century Manhattan.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu0026quot;Gray Mattersu0026quot; presents us with life as only those in the movies ever really live it.”


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