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Shade of Grey - DVD Review
"SHADE OF GREY" (Celebrity Video Distribution) Starring SCOTT GANYO + BENJAMIN RILEY + MONICA BARAJAS + JENNIFER BERKEMEIER written + directed by JAKOB BILINSKI
Jakob Bilinski’s Shade of Grey starts out like so many low-budget indie films, in a low-rent motel room dramatically cascaded in red light. But where most of those films go right for the jugular with shlocky horror tropes, cheesy special effects and bitchy acting, Bilinski’s picture starts off with some nicely paced scene-setting and character development, introducing us to the sordid individuals who have inhabited the aforementioned room. And when one of the moody young things ruminates on the experiences etched into the room’s architecture and ponders the possibility of the room having a soul, the keen viewer listens intently instead of shrugging or rolling their eyes. This isn’t shlock, this is a slow-burning chamber piece.
Much of the acting leaves something to be desired, but Bilinski’s eye for atmosphere and ear for believable dialogue makes it easy to overlook this shortcoming. In fact the austere humanity of the characters and their very real plights is such that they are palpable despite the people portraying them.
There is pain and sorrow, regret and desire at work in this domestic drama, the ideal ingredients for any great American tale. One troubled young wife and her indifferent and egotistical husband calls to mind Cruise and Kidman’s couple from Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, another great film about spousal arrogance and the repercussions of repressed emotions. But unlike Kubrick’s final flick, Shade of Grey has a strained but strong determinism that bleeds through its images, a sense of its helmsman’s aching need to get something out in visuals and verbiage. And unlike the Kubrick, Shade of Grey’s director takes no discernible pleasure in tormenting his protagonists or watching them make fools of themselves.
Shade of Grey struggles and stammers to address an issue that most people in relationships wrestle with at one time or another, the issue of reconciling past mistakes and avoiding current and future ones. The characters in Bilinski’s piece don’t always succeed at conquering these demons, but even when they don’t they make a compelling effort that translates to a memorable cinematic experience.
A socially-relevant series of vignettes that deals with everything from adultery and abortion to loss of innocence and acknowledgement of irresponsibility, this film is loaded with promise, the promise of a capable auteur who will one day make a multi-dimensional film with valuable roles for valuable actors, if only someone will give him some damn money and experienced thespians.
Check out more of Jacob Bilinski’s work at: