In my review of Imagine Me and You I said it was a lesbian version of the British rom-com. Gray Matters is the lesbian version of the screwball comedy. Neither of these films is particularly groundbreaking, they’re not going to revolutionize the world. They’re not the world’s best films, but they certainly deserve to do better than they did when they first came out.
The thing is, the bar for a good lesbian film is set so low that a middling straight film in which no one dies is an amazingly great lesbian one.
Spoiler: no one dies in this film.
I know, I’m amazed too! Quick, rush out and find a copy!
I’m kidding. I know you buy the DVD online. Or stream it. Legally. My point is, I have become so incredibly bored by your stupid lesbian drama, Hollywood, that a film in which happy people have a little back and forth and it’s more than a little contrived and the set up is… strange… counts as a VERY GOOD FILM.
Because realizing you’re gay is not the worst thing in the world and having lesbian feelings does not turn you into a maniac!
On to a review of the actual film: Gray and Sam are a brother and sister who act like the perfect couple; they work in perfect harmony, finish each other’s sentences, enjoy the same films, dance classes, food and… women. Sam finds his perfect mate in Charlie, played by the gorgeous Bridget Moynahan- who, yah, is pretty amazing, and sexy, aside from being one of those awful movie women who doesn’t work out, eats everything and never puts on weight. Yawn.
She’s great but Gray starts to realize she thinks Charlie is more than just ‘great’… dun dun dun! It’s a lighthearted triviality of a lesbian film that is, in many ways, similar to the 1940s movies that our hero and heroine love so much. With fun, fast dialogue, old-fashioned dance numbers and beautiful leads.
I enjoy the film but, let’s be honest, it isn’t amazing. Its convoluted structure, zany side characters and pseudo-emotional evolution aren’t allowing the story to breathe. There’s a very on-the-nose speech when Gray accepts her gayness where she explains she’s not sad because she’s gay, she’s sad because she won’t be able to get married and her partner won’t be respected when she dies. Points for treating gayness as an everyday, ordinary thing rather than a major problem however.
Heather Graham and Thomas Cavanagh as the siblings make a good match but Graham’s stilted line delivery makes an even bigger point of just how strange Gray is- she has to have her coffee in a certain, strange way. She has to have her martini in a certain, strange way. She has to have her hot dog in a certain, strange way. Why? It’s so affected. Half this and half that? Is it supposed to show she’s indecisive? It doesn’t. It’s just weird. And she isn’t indecisive, she’s unaware she’s gay, that’s a very different thing.
The film does a line in unrealistic, sitcom-like characters and scenarios, to the extent that it feels like a feature-length episode of Will & Grace. With the exception of the amazing-as-always Molly Shannon, the other side characters are exceptionally weird. Alan Cumming is unnecessary and Sissy Spacek, as Gray’s shrink, isn’t even laughably bad- she’s just bad. They’re a hindrance to the main plot and a silly distraction. Again, except for Molly Shannon. She’s brilliant.
So, in conclusion: watch this film, it’s funny and sweet, nice from a lesbian point of view but not earth shattering and probably quite irritating if you dislike a screwball comedy.