Sunday, January 9, 2011

ALL GOOD THINGS (2010)

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Written by Marcus Hinchey & Marc Smeling

Directed by Andrew Jarecki

Where & When: Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood, CA. December 27, 2010  3:00PM


"All Good Things" is the first narrative feature by documentary film maker, Andrew Jarecki, whose most notable work is the 2003 Oscar-nominated, "Capturing The Friedmans". This film is closely based on the life of Robert Durst, the son of New York real estate mogul, Seymour Durst, who many feel was somehow responsible for the mysterious disappearance of his wife, Kathleen McCormack, the unsolved murder of his friend, Susan Berman. and would actually be accused of the murder of his neighbor, Morris Black.

In this film, the character is named David Marks, a seemingly, mild-mannered young man, played by Ryan Gosling, who meets his future wife, Katie (Kirsten Dunst) who at the time was a college student, while being forced to go and repair the plumbing in her apartment, which happens to owned by his icy and imposing father, Sanford Marks (Frank Langella).

David is unable to fix Katie's pipes but a romance blossoms, much to his father's disapproval. David marries Katie anyway and the couple move to Vermont to open a health store called, "All Good Things". Life is idyllic for the newlyweds for a short while until David's father pays them a visit. He informs David that it is now time for him to come back to the city and take his place in the family business or else he will no longer financially support him.

Begrudgingly, David does as he is told but soon Katie begins to notice a change in her husband. He begins muttering to himself and his mood becomes much darker, which leads to angry rages and violent outbursts that he takes out on his wife. Katie soon realizes she doesn't really know anything about David as she is surprised to learn from David's old friend, Deborah (Lily Rabe) that as a young boy, he witnessed his mother commit suicide by jumping off the roof of their home as well as getting a clear picture of what exactly the work is that he does for his father.

Soon, Katie has had enough and informs her husband that she wants out of the marriage and not long after, she disappears without a trace.

Then, things take on a very bizarre turn when years later, David moves to Texas and begins living life dressed as a woman. He manages to befriend his neighbor in the apartment building, Malvern Bump (Philip Baker Hall), a disagreeable elderly man, who may or may not be actually aware of David's true gender, also happens to be very adept with a gun.

Deborah begins frantically calling David asking him to send her more money or else she will release some information to the police that he certainly wouldn't want to get out. Shortly after that threat, Deborah is murdered, execution-style. Not long after that murder, trash bags are found floating in the Galveston Bay, filled with body parts. They happen to belong to Malvern Bump. David is arrested for the crime and goes to trial were he claims that he killed Malvern in self-defense and only disposed of the body in fear that nobody would believe him. A jury finds David Marks not guilty of murder but is sentenced to five years for bond jumping and evidence tampering.

The film uses these fictional characters to fill in the blanks and draw possible scenarios on what could have possibly happened in the real life case of Robert Durst. Mr. Durst, who has since been released from prison and has seen and actually likes this film, surely knows much more than he is willing to say but since he seems mentally unstable and very likely a sociopath, the truth will probably never come out.

"All Good Things" is an admirable first attempt by Mr. Jarecki but while it starts off engrossing, it soon becomes frustratingly vague and lacking any emotional impact. The film does imply that David Marks is more likely guilty than not but we still never get a clear understanding of who he really is and what would have motivated him to have committed any of these crimes. This weakens Mr. Gosling's riveting performance somewhat because his sudden erratic behaviour seems to come out of nowhere but Mr. Gosling gives his all in this role and proves that he is one of the most exciting and intriguing young actors working today.

Ms Dunst, who has not appeared on the big screen since 2008, makes a welcome return although it's in a role that is underwritten since we don't have a clear idea of what type of woman she truly is to marry a wealthy young man without having much knowledge about him or his past. Mr.Langella is perfect as David's cold and manipulative father and there is a fun cameo by SNL's Kristen Wiig.

"All Good Things" poses many questions and possibilities in what could have happened in these still unsolved crime cases but since the film is so unfocused and misguided that it doesn't offer any clear answers.