Shade of Grey is woven from the intricate relationships of several characters who repeatedly find themselves in the same anonymous motel room across several years. The room bears witness to all the joy, heartache and pain that comes with their presence. As their stories are laid bare within this temporary cell, the players become forever interconnected, unknowingly staking their claim as a part of the history of this seedy intersection. It's about family, the complicated and fractured ties that exist as people try to forge that definition. It's about the overwhelmingly necessary and potentially destructive power of love. It's about rebirth and second chances, how everyone has demons shadowing their past and the past of those before them. Written by
So what is Shade of Grey? Beyond the obvious, Shade of Grey is a rare and successful combination of experimental storytelling, high technical skills, passion and true dedication. To be honest, it is hard for me to write about Shade of Grey. It is a movie that must be experienced in order to be fully understood. I'll start saying that it can be a dream, or a nightmare, or maybe both, depending on who you are, your life experience and your own interpretation of the characters' lives.
In order to strengthen this "dreamlike effect", Bilinski breaks the storyline into different scenes that are, only in appearance, disconnected from each other. This is just a very clever and very risky technique. I have only seen it succeed in rare cases like 21 Grams, Shorts Cuts, Magnolia and very few others. Like these films, Bilinski's is also a dark and sometimes twisted drama. I would even dare to say that it is even more emotionally exhausting than Iñarritu's 21 Grams. Why? Most of Shade of Grey takes places in just one hotel room, which towards the end of the film becomes, in my opinion, one of the most menacing and claustrophobic locations ever put on film. Because of this and the intensity imposed upon the viewer, I can only describe Shade of Grey as a combination of the aforementioned films and Polanski's Death and The Maiden. Hopefully those who have seen them will agree.
Telling a story using a fragmented storyline in such reduced and plain space can be extremely complicated. But Bilinski does it very cleverly by expanding the action not physically but chronologically, which is an aspect not truly explored in any of the aforementioned titles. To make the long story short, let's just say that Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" could also be one of Bilinski's influences
But the most interesting thing about Shade of Grey is that, while watching it, I could not help to think that we, the viewers, had also become one of the characters during the viewing process. We were, in fact, THE MAIN CHARACTER because just like the room where the action takes place, we are always there too, watching, listening, witnessing quietly and attentively, like the walls, the ceiling, the old furniture and the window. Watching Shade of Grey is being inside the movie, sharing the joy, sadness, doubt, life and death of the characters.
Congratulations, Jake! You have created quite an unusual and truly intense journey into the strange world and the bizarre experience of being human.
I can't wait for the next one!
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