All Good Things (2009)
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Andrew Jarecki, Marcus Hinchey, Marc Smerling
Kirsten Dunst, Ryan Gosling, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Frank Langella, Kristen Wiig, Nick Offerman, Diane Venora, Philip Baker Hall, John Doman, Trini Alvarado, Zoe Lister Jones, John Cullum, Lily Rabe, Liz Stauber, Ashlie Atkinson, Jason Kravits, Tom Riis Farrell, Tom Kemp, Marion McCorry, Eliezer Meyer, Maggie Kiley, Shirley Roeca, Jicky Schnee, Jeanine Serralles, Mark Vincent, Stephen Singer, Michael Esper, Sean Meehan, Pamela Tyson, Craig Walker, Barbara Ann Davison, Tamara Torres, Mark Rosenthal, Aristedes Philip DuVal, Diane Baisley, Kevin Cannon, Peter Conboy, James Cronin, Catherine Pierce, Fabrizia Dal Farra, Stephen Kunken, Laura Lynn Berrios, Laura Lynn Berrios, William Jackson Harper, Glenn Fleshler, Sophia Rokhlin, Emily Alonzo, Monika Baskiewicz, Lebroz James, Tony Torn, Kina Bermudez
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|Movie Review by Jarrod |
December 4th, 2010
'All Good Things' is based on the true story of Robert Durst, a billionaire accused, but never implicated, in the 1984 disappearance of his wife, Kathleen McCormack. The film strongly implies his guilt, and its screenplay is comprised both of meticulous research, recounting the basic details of the case, and wild speculation. Durst's fictional counterpart is David Marks (Ryan Gosling), heir to his father's real estate empire; his father, the imperious tycoon Sanford Marks (Frank Langella) is a cruel, cold, and domineering man, whom David despises.
This in no way bothers the elder Marks, who cares only that he has someone to carry on his name and his business, and that he can control and manage every aspect of David's life. A source of conflict arises when David meets and falls in love with Katie McCarthy (Kirsten Dunst), a girl from a modest background who hopes to pay her way through medical school.
Sanford disapproves immediately, but, in this regard, David will defy his father's wishes, and marries Katie, and their first few years together are filled with happiness. They move to Vermont, and open a quaint health food store (which supplies the heavily ironic title). Things take a dark turn, however, as David is ultimately pressured into returning to New York, collecting rent from seedy porn theaters and massage parlors in Times Square (recreated here with sordid 70s ambience), and it all starts to take a toll on him.
He becomes emotionally distant, and even displays violent tendencies, and Katie realizes that she is living with a complete stranger. When she goes missing, David is suspected of murdering her, but the evidence never quite comes together. What follows is a increasingly bizarre and ominous chain of events, involving multiple homicides, cross-dressing, and blackmail, as David relocates to Galveston, Texas, and befriends elderly recluse Marvin Bump (a terrific Philip Baker Hall).
Bump shares the same fate as David's other close friend, Deborah (Lily Rabe), and so it seems that everyone around him ends up dead eventually. Director Andrew Jarecki is best-known for his documentary features, like 2003's stirring Capturing the Friedmans, in which he utilized a wealth of home video footage to chronicle the exploits of an affluent family confronted with startling (and possibly untrue) accusations of child molestation. This movie is far less ambiguous, and all but indicts David from its earliest scenes.
It is creepy and suspenseful, but relies too much on foreshadowing and distracting, unnecessary voice-overs; the majority of the narrative unfolds in flashbacks, which serve as a visual representation of David's testimony at his trial. There are noir-ish elements that do not seem related to anything at all, but may have some symbolic meaning, or could seek to enhance the mystery and uncertainty of the proceedings. Ryan Gosling is compelling in the lead, and embraces the darker impulses of his character, with an anger only slight less intense than that of the conflicted Jewish youth he portrayed in The Believer.
It seems obvious that David suffers from a mental illness, stemming perhaps from the traumatic childhood incident of watching his mother commit suicide. Gosling conveys a lot with his eyes and facial expressions, which is crucial, but David still remains an inscrutable enigma, a person we can never fully comprehend. He never quite earns our sympathy, despite his monstrous father, played with confidence and menace by the brilliant Langella.
Dunst is wonderfully charming and extremely credible, as Katie, and this could open new doors for her, get her meatier dramatic work and cause people to stop regarding her as Mary Jane Watson, the part that has defined much of her career for the last several years (let us not forget though, her chilling performance in Interview with the Vampire). The ending is complete conjecture, and while intriguing, it feels incomplete and unsatisfying, if only because it seems to arrive there implausibly.
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