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Grey Lady

April 28, 2017
Grey Lady

The title of Grey Lady is evidently a reference to Nantucket Island. I mean, I’ve never heard of it, but it shows up on the Wikipedia page, and I’m willing to concede that writer/director John Shea might know something I don’t. But that’s about as conciliatory as I’m feeling for what may number among the worst movies I’ve seen without the words “Lifetime Original” being involved somewhere.

We’re on Nantucket because Boston detective James Doyle (Eric Dane) is investigating a series of murders that have already claimed his sister and his girlfriend (Rebecca Gayheart). Who is, er was, also his partner. Oh, but the sister and girlfriend are two separate people, though the script isn’t terribly clear on that point and I wanted to at least do better on that count. Oh, and the girlfriend was also pregnant with Doyle’s baby, which I’m not entirely sure he could have known, but I think we’re also supposed to assume he knew because it adds that much more pathos to his back-story. Pathos is the name of the game here. Very, very pathetic.

Anyway, so he shows up in Nantucket despite being thrown off the case by his BPD captain — a case that since it started with his sister he shouldn’t have been on in the first place but whatever — because he doesn’t care about your rules, and he’s in this for justice. Seriously, this kind of dialogue is just in here and as far as I can tell it’s meant to be taken seriously. I could almost respect a movie that quoted this sort of self-serious garbage in an attempt at parody, but no it really is this ridden with clichés.

But why are we on Nantucket again? Honestly, I’ve been back over the first chunk of the movie again and I can’t see the connection. Something about Doyle’s family, and they used to come to the island, or he thinks some portion of them live here. It’s the sort of small town where everybody knows everybody, but nobody knows the names he’s asking about even as we later discover they’ve been there the whole time.

A representative from the local police (a wasted Adrian Lester) is there to meet him off the ferry, and he quickly meets local socialite Melissa Reynolds (Natalie Zea) who naturally falls for him but he’s still too hurt — in a quiet, manly way, of course — by the loss of his basically identical girlfriend to return her affections.
Yet. There’s a local drunk (Amy Madigan) and a loopy blonde (Carolyn Stotesbery), and Shea himself shows up as the police chief here to deliver an in-person dose of canned rogue-cop dialogue.

There is nothing redeeming here. It doesn’t look particularly good; there are no bravura performances; there’s no interesting quirk that makes up for the overwrought, well, everything. It even commits the cardinal sin of hiding information from the audience for no story-driven reason, and it has the cluelessly poor taste to do it right in front of us. I can only imagine that Shea had stockpiled a decade’s worth of favors from his television career, and hope that he has now cashed them all in.

Worth It: no.
Bechdel-Wallace Test: fail.

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