Gray’s Anatomy (1996)

grays anatomy poster 1996 movie spalding gray
7.5 Overall Score

Interesting monologue to film

If you can't get into Gray, you won't get into the movie

Movie Info

Movie Name: Gray’s Anatomy

Studio:  Independent Film Channel (IFC)/BBC Films/Bait and Switch

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  September 11, 1996 (Toronto International Film Festival)/March 19, 1997 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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Spalding Gray is blown away!

Spalding Gray has a problem…he’s just developed a macular pucker and is losing his eyesight.  The rare affliction can be fixed by surgery, but having his eye go under the knife isn’t on Spalding “to-do” list.  Instead, Spalding sets out on a quest to find a cure for himself…be it a Native American mystic in Minneapolis or a faith healer in Philippines.  Spalding thinks there’s got to be a way to cure his eye…but the answer might be staring at him all along.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Gray’s Anatomy is an essay performance.  The film is Spalding telling and recounting his attempts to find a cure for his macular pucker.  The film was the last of Gray’s monologue films following Monster in a Box in 1992.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #618).

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Put your trust in God

I hadn’t seen any of Spalding Gray’s monologues before and didn’t even go into Gray’s Anatomy knowing it was a monologue.  The film despite being rather anchored to Spalding does find its way into a strange groove and feels bigger than simply a guy talking at a desk.

While the movie is simply Gray recounting his adventures for alternative medicine, it kind of has a bit of a plot.  Gray is facing the scary fear of a macular pucker and blindness, but the risks of a surgery are also frightening.  Unlike many who would be limited by budget, Gray travels the world in search of alternative cures…but it always leads him right back home and a reckoning with his fears.

Spalding is an interesting character himself.  He has a bit of Woody Allen in him in that he rambles…but the rambling ends up making a weird type of sense.  Sometimes you wonder where he’s going, but he always ends up in a logical location so you know that the rambling isn’t random…it is planned and well thought out.  It shows his talent as a writer and a performer.  The fact he can keep you engaged in a story about his eye for almost an hour and a half is proof.

grays anatomy macular pucker spalding gray

So….all your adventures and you still end up where you started

The film does do an interesting thing by bringing in others who have faced eye struggles.  The first part of the film starts out with horrific first person accounts of people who have damaged their eyes in a multitude of ways.  Eye injuries are always squeamish and these stories are no different.  Throughout the course of the film, the people are revisited and questioned about Spalding’s choice of cures which is a nice way to liven up the monologue.

Gray’s Anatomy is an interesting film and a quick watch.  It is a good introduction to Gray who sadly killed himself in 2004 after some more medical misfortunes.  Soderbergh has some strange muses and Spalding Gray is just one of them.  Soderbergh revisited Spalding after his death with the documentary And Everything Is Going Fine in 2010.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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