Film Review: Grey (dir. by Darshan Patel)

I want to take a few paragraphs to recommend a 20-minute film that I recently saw.  The name of the film is Grey and it can be viewed here.

Grey is a harrowingly honest but ultimately hopeful film about depression.  Opening with Raphael sleeping on his couch while his wife Lea lies alone in their bed, Grey is a near-documentary look at a couple whose lives are currently ruled by depression.  While Lea spends her days in bed (getting up only to close the curtains), Raphael struggles to carry on with his life.  He goes to work, he exercises in the park, and every day he comes home and tries (unsuccessfully) to get his wife to eat.  Though Raphael obviously loves his wife, it’s obvious that he’s nearly at the end of his rope. 

Speaking as someone who has to deal with depression her entire life, I can say that Grey gets it right and for that, I’m thankful.  Far too often, cinematic depression is just portrayed as just a plot device, a condition that has a very specific cause and, therefore, a very specific solution.  Though Grey gives us some hints as to what exactly has triggered Lea’s depression, it very wisely leaves the reason for her condition ambiguous and instead, it focuses on the day-to-day experience of both Lea and Raphael.  It acknowledges and illustrates the fact that depression affects more than just the person who is depressed while never playing down just how difficult it is to find oneself trapped in that condition.  Grey perfectly captures the strange stillness that comes with depression and the numbness that results from it. 

In the pivotal roles of Raphael and Lea, both James Parsons and Chiara Grioni give strong and sympathetic performances but the real star of the film is director Darshan Patel.  It’s a difficult thing, making a film about depression that is both honest and watchable but Patel has managed to largely succeed.  Wisely, he takes a hand-held, almost documentary-like approach here that allows us the viewer to make up our own minds regarding what we’re watching.  Instead of manipulating us to make us feel sorry for Raphael and/or Lea, he instead casts us in the role of detached observers who can do little more than simply watch life unfold.  As a director, Patel captures the feeling of isolation that comes with being depressed and, even in the scenes where Raphael interacts with others, you’re left with no doubt that he’s a man who feels that, without Lea, he is totally alone in the world.  I think the scene that most vindicates Patel’s technique is in the disturbing scene where Lea matter-of-factly considers slitting her wrists.  A lesser director would have played the scene with a lot of ominous music and flashy editing and the end result would have been a lot less effective than Patel’s straight forward approach.

In the end, Grey is the perfect title for this film.  Too often, films about depression either give into melodrama or they provide a bunch of easy answers.  Anyone who has ever had to deal with depression knows that the truth is never quite as simple.  Depression truly is a state of being grey, a state of being where the only feelings are ones of numbness, apathy, and hopelessness.  With an unflinching eye, Patel captures that feeling in this film and, it is to his credit, that Grey ends on a note of hope that feels totally earned. 

If you’ve ever suffered from depression or if you’ve had to deal with and/or take care of someone who suffers from depression, you’ll find Grey to be a powerful film and one that deserves to be seen.  You can watch the film for yourself here.

3 responses to “Film Review: Grey (dir. by Darshan Patel)

  1. This is a very affective and efficient film. As you indicated, it is so matter-of-fact and uncontrived, and therefore believable, I found myself caring about the characters right away. The mutual but distinct states of helplessness in which each person was trapped were very effectively portrayed.

    I long ago came to realize that a depressed person isn’t necessarily suffering from an inaccurately or exaggeratedly negative perspective, but rather a starkly realistic one. They actually see things more realistically than does a “normal” person. The average “healthy” person has, to some extent an irrational sense of optimism and wellbeing; they are oblivious to, or at least buffered from, the darkness of reality by their brain chemistry. Viewing life though those innate rose-colored glasses enables most people to get through life relatively comfortably, with perhaps the occasional episodic, mild, and brief period of melancholy. Not that I needed the validation, but I have since heard confirmation in the media of this premise from the realm of mental health research.

    Lea’s depression was apparently induced by trauma and loss. Some people do not have an obvious catalyst for their depression, which makes it even more difficult for the “rosy” people around them to understand. And an ironic and cruel twist of human nature is that people tend to avoid or reject those who are unhappy, because such people make them uncomfortable, which can just compound the problem. I make that observation with acknowledgement of the difficulty of attempting to help a severely depressed person, which is presented so well in this short film.

    As a kindred spirit often on the dark side, I thank you for passing this film along. I hope your avocation as a creative and expressive contributor to this and other forums brings you pleasure, as I hope would the knowledge that others derive it from reading your work and exchanging viewpoints with you. And I extend that sentiment to all the writers on the site.


    • Thank you, KO. 🙂 To me, happiness is nothing more than knowing that I’ved help someone discover a great work of art that he or she might not have otherwise discovered. So, if I’ve ever written anything that’s inspired you to watch something that you might not have otherwise watched, then I am a very happy girl indeed. 🙂


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