Coldblooded, on the surface
By Ann Hornaday
Friday, December 10, 2010
Ryan Gosling delivers yet another chameleon-like performance in "All Good Things," Andrew Jarecki's ripped-from-the-headlines docudrama. Gosling plays David Marks, the troubled son of powerful Manhattan real estate mogul Sanford Marks (Frank Langella) who grabs at the chance to escape his stifling father when he meets a pretty, down-to-earth girl named Katie (Kirsten Dunst). The couple get married and move to Vermont, where they run a health-food store far out of Sanford's overweening shadow. But soon the old man is knocking on their door, urging David to return to the family business - in this case collecting rent from sleazy tenants in a pre-gentrified Times Square.
"All Good Things" takes its plot from the notorious case of Robert Durst, who when his wife, Kathie, disappeared in 1982, came under suspicion of murdering her. Jarecki, who directed the gripping 2003 documentary "Capturing the Friedmans" and makes his feature debut here, clearly thinks Durst dunnit. And he makes a strong case that he also offed an old friend and killed a man in Texas, not in self-defense but to cover his tracks.
Jarecki knows his way around depravity and dysfunction, as "Capturing the Friedmans" made chillingly clear, and he elicits assured performances from Gosling and Dunst as characters who, for different reasons, are swept up in forces beyond their control. (There's a strong suggestion that Durst/Marks suffers from mental illness, perhaps rooted in witnessing his mother's suicide as a young boy.) But as absorbing and detailed as "All Good Things" is, it never manages to levitate beyond tawdry movie-of-the-week voyeurism. Jarecki skillfully makes the case that Durst benefited from a cynical miscarriage of justice, but the audience remains on the story's emotional periphery, interested but not invested. "All Good Things" is creepy and weird and sad, and little else.
Contains drug use, violence, profanity and sexuality.