Gray Matters: 1 & ½ Stars (out of 5)
Here’s a film I wanted to enjoy. It’s got likeable stars and a nice twist on the whole romcom thing, and it’s heart is in the right place, but poor decisions and bad writing keep getting in the way.
Gray (Heather Graham) and Sam (Thomas Cavanagh) are the perfect couple. They like the same things and spend all their free time together. The trouble is they are siblings; on advice of friends, who feel their closeness is a little creepy, they are encouraged to find other relationships.
And so with the help of Gray, Sam meets Charlie (Bridget Moynahan) the woman he’s always dreamt of; within days they are engaged to be married. Gray should be overcome with jealousy, but that’s not the emotion that’s troubling her. On spending time with Charlie, Gray discovers two things about herself. One, she is gay. And two, she’s in love with her brother’s new wife.
There are some funny lines and heartfelt moments as Gray has to come to terms with the person she is, whether she wants to or not. The problem is writer director Sue Kramer seems unable to balance the weighty issues of sexual identity with the more lighthearted romantic comedy moments, which leads to some absolutely painful scenes to watch including Alan Cumming in drag trying to pass himself as a woman in a lesbian bar. (your shudder here)
The film works better than it should given it’s awkward and clumsy script and that’s because of the chemistry of the three leads. Moynahan isn’t given much to do other than look beautiful and act sweet, but hey she certainly does that well. And Cavanaugh gives the same loveable goofy performance fans of Ed fell for years ago.
Even Graham, not one of my favorite actresses, comes off good here. Maybe because she’s playing a cute, confused, and slightly dim young woman. Perfect casting? But if the leads are great the supporting cast lives a little to be desired. Sissy Spacek is wasted as an oddball shrink who’s only reason for existing seems to be to further plot points. And somebody kill Molly Shannon before I have to, please. A woman who can’t shut up and thinks everything she says is funny, whether it is or not, can very quickly annoy me. I’d say she constantly over-acts, but that would imply she acts at all.
The film teases us with comedic build-up. It teases us with a possible lesbian romance. It teases us with the drama of a character coming out of the closet. It teases quite a bit, but it never satisfies. The actors do their best, when they aren’t tripping over the landmines in the script, but even this likeable cast can’t save such a poorly thought out and produced film. Even if the film’s heart is in the right place, it’s head is buried firmly up it’s own ass. There are several movies around that do more justice to their subject matter including last year’s flawed, but more enjoyable, Imagine Me & You, read the review, which is now on DVD.
Gray Matters is rated PG-13 for some mature thematic material, sexual content and language, with a running time of 96 minutes.