Shade Of Grey (2009)

DVD Cover (Celebrity Video Distribution)
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Overall Rating 74%
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Ranked #6,368
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Scott Ganyo
Scott Ganyo
Benjamin Riley
Benjamin Riley
Katelyn Coyne
Katelyn Coyne
Monica Barajas
Monica Barajas
Jennifer Berkemeier
Jennifer Berkemeier
Review by Chad
Added: January 10, 2009
We've all stayed in motel rooms at one point or another (some more than others), but have you ever stopped to think about who stayed in that particular room before you? If those walls could talk, what would they tell you? Sure, you'd hear a couple of stories about run-of-the-mill businessmen looking for a place to lay down for the night and you'd hear a few about cheating husbands and the mistresses that they were looking to spend a lunch break with, but what about the juicier stories - the family drama, the parties gone wrong, the drug deals? That is the concept for tonight's film, and it's actually a pretty solid idea that is executed to perfection.

Most of the film centers around Evan (Scott Ganyo), a young man who brings his wife Samantha (Katelyn Coyne) to Room #123 before heading off to the Bahamas for their honeymoon. It's your typical first night of marriage: both are happy as can be, they give each other googly-eyes and exchange vows of undying love, and of course, they consummate the marriage. They return to this same room a few years later to relive the magic, but it's plainly obvious that their marriage has been going downhill for a while now. Later, Evan brings his mistress Nicole (Jennifer Berkemeier) to this room while his unknowing wife sits at home wondering where he's at.

Another story revolves around teen lovers Bryan (Ben Schmitt) and Sarah (Monica Barajas), two lovable kids who decide to lose their virginity together in this very room. Later, they return here to discuss what they want to do about Sarah's pregnancy, and later still, Bryan will come back to this room to engage in a drug deal which will hopefully help his family stay afloat.

There's much more to both stories than what I'm letting on, naturally, but you get the idea of how this concept plays out. To keep viewers on there toes, the stories and the timeline goes back and forth: we'll see a little bit of the first story before moving on to the second, then we'll fast-forward an undetermined amount of time and see the continuation of the first story, and we simply go back and forth until both stories have reached their conclusions. Admittedly, you do need to pay close attention to the stories in order to keep track of what's going on; there were a couple of times where I had to rewind in order to figure out who "that girl" was or which story we were in, but this was by no means a fault of the film.

I'm going to come right out and say that I wasn't initially sure how this film was going to play out. Movies that take place entirely in one setting have a habit of being very hit or miss, and when that setting happens to be a mundane motel room... well, the fact that I watched it proves that I didn't dismiss it outright, but to say that I wasn't nervous about it would be a lie. Thankfully, my fears were laid to rest within the first few minutes of the film, as the characters truly get you sucked into the entire affair. By the time we hit scenes four and five, we completely forget that it's all taking place in a single room - we're too busy focusing on the characters to worry about the setting.

In order to pull this type of film off, you really need to have two things working in your favor. The first is a solid storyline with characters that we can enjoy watching. If we as an audience simply don't care about the characters or if the story is unappealing, then what hope does the film have in succeeding? Thankfully, neither of these elements becomes an issue: the stories are both entertaining and unpredictable, and the characters, while not always likable, do keep you watching to see what they're going to do and what's going to happen to them next.

The other thing that a budding young filmmaker needs for a film of this nature is a talented cast. Here, the characters are the story: there are no serial killers, T&A, gore, or comedic efforts inserted in order to cover up the weak spots in an actor's abilities in front of the camera. If you put even one subpar actor in a scene, then that scene is all but ruined before it ever has a chance to flourish. I can't say that everyone involved with this film turned in fantastic performances as there were a few scenes here and there that could have stood a reshoot, but for the most part, these guys and gals ranged from acceptable to great. Not every scene was perfect and only a few featured poor performances, but the good far outweighed the bad in this regard.

Shade of Grey is not a perfect film, but it is a very memorable one that is certainly worth your time. Even though I wasn't impressed with certain performances, these few weak seams didn't do much to detract from my overall enjoyment as the strong writing found in these stories more than made up for the faults. The official synopsis found on the DVD cover labels this as a "powerful" film, and while those are pretty bold words for a filmmaker to brand his own work with, I can't say that I disagree with them - this is indeed a powerful film, and there are moments to be found that are simply breathtaking. This is saying nothing about the final scene of the film, a scene which is nothing short of a punch to the gut in terms of sheer impact and unfortunate closure to one of the stories. Don't miss this one. 9/10.
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