Spalding Gray has an eye condition that can be surgically corrected. He decides to seek alternate treatment and embarks on a journey that will take him to Christian Science, Native American sweat lodges and psychic surgeons, among others.Written by
Erik Gregersen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Although inspired by actual events, the characters and events depicted in the monologue portion of this motion picture have been fictionalized. Any similarity to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental. See more »
When Spalding Gray is diagnosed as having an eye condition, he goes to a doctor to discuss a course of action. When the issue of surgery comes up it launches Gray on a journey to get a cure that sees him reconnecting with his Christian Scientology roots before other treatments including a physic surgeon, cutting out some foods and a Native American sweat lodge.
Spalding Gray's monologues are very much a matter of taste -many audiences do not like spoken word shows or films and even those that do may not like Gray. I am of the mind that any story teller than can hold my interest for 80 minutes is worth listening to. As an ex-cleaner I have listened to many of my older colleagues talk ad infinitium about their medical problems but none did so with the wit and invention of Gray. He tells a simple story of alternative treatments and such but every little detail is painted with great words. He also manages to inject wit into it - the funniest moment being where he is told that he cannot eat fish (cause they eat certain sea cucumbers in the wild that have chemicals) and he cannot eat chicken because they feed fish to chicken; he finds a farmer's market selling fish bred in captivity (hence, he reckons, unlikely to have eat the sea cucumbers), buys it but then is told that they feed the fish ground up chicken!.
Gray is captivating. At times he is a bit too hyper and his mannerisms are a little irritating in a spoilt Western-hypochondriac type of way, but this is just my prejudice getting in the way. He is a very good story teller and he makes for a good focus. The talking heads add value but really were unnecessary to carry the film. As director, Soderbergh finds himself with a difficult task: does he just point the camera and let the words do the work or does he try to mix it up? He goes for adding to the words and, in some cases he does (The Elvis of surgeons for example) but too often he just blurs the camera behind colours and rippled images. It still works but the words don't need help and often Soderbergh's influence is unnecessary even if it isn't unwelcome.
Overall this is an enjoyable story that is very well told with words that do not only inform but paint and expand on the basic tales. Soderbergh feels that he must do something to justify the difference between film and stage and some of his influence works - but happily even when it doesn't it can be ignored. One of the more accessible and enjoyable of Gray's monologues, this film is a perfect way to reflect upon the man in the shadow of his untimely death.
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