Too Many 'Gray' Areas

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Friday, March 9, 2007

"Gray Matters" stars Heather Graham and Tom Cavanagh as a pair of siblings whose unusual closeness hampers their ability to have romantic relationships.

When her brother does fall in love, Gray (Graham) has mixed emotions. She's happy that Sam (Cavanagh) has become engaged to Charlie (Bridget Moynahan). So why is she feeling an odd kind of jealousy? And what about that passionate kiss the two women shared one drunken night?

"Gray Matters" joins a long list of other movies, including "Kissing Jessica Stein," "But I'm a Cheerleader" and "Three of Hearts," that use romantic comedy to make mainstream audiences more comfortable and intimate with gay lifestyles. As with many of these films, "Gray Matters" does that by making viewers share the main character's confusion as she comes to terms with her sexual identity.

Unfortunately, the film, written and directed by Sue Kramer, starts with a distinctly uncomfortable moral baseline: How exactly is any audience supposed to identify with a character whose relationship with her brother borders on the incestuous? And although Graham exudes the perky appeal that illuminated her role as Rollergirl in "Boogie Nights," she can't do much about a script that seems to have lost its narrative compass. Gray's identity issues -- presumably the movie's main focus -- share time with too many subsidiary scenes that seem (rightly or wrongly) to have been written for as many actor-friends of the filmmakers as possible.

-- Desson Thomson

Gray Matters PG-13, 92 minutes Contains mature sexual content and profanity. At AMC Loews Dupont.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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