Rated R for drug use, violence, language and some sexuality, 100 minutes
Well-acted, chilling but baffling “All Good Things”
“All Good Things” is a fascinating, well-acted but confusing thriller based-on-a-true crime story, which works in its favor but is also its biggest flaw. Based on the chillingly bizarre experiences of rich real estate investor Robert Durst, for some reason the story is given a fictional slant, an odd choice from the filmmakers given their stance in essentially implicating Durst of the crimes.
Ryan Gosling is David Marks, the son of wealthy New York City real estate investor Sanford Marks (Frank Langella). He meets the girl of his dreams, a pretty, smart blond named Katie McCarthy (Kirsten Dunst). When they get married, David leaves the family business as he and Katie buy a health food store named “All Good Things.” But David is lured back to the business, the two begin leading separate lives and Katie applies to medical school. However, David begins acting strangely and violently toward Katie and others, and Katie disappears. Through a strange series of events over the years, the now 20-year old case of Katie’s disappearance is re-opened.
“All Good Things” is an intriguingly murky, well-acted dramatic thriller whose real-life story seems to cast a pall on its effectiveness. It’s well-acted and “Capturing the Friedman’s” director Andrew Jarecki, directs “All Good Things” with an astute attention to detail, but it’s baffling as to why Jarecki and his screenwriters Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling didn’t just use Durst’s story outright instead of changing the names and a few minor details (even Durst himself - strangely enough - has approved the film).
Gosling and especially Dunst, in an understated, low-key role, are quite good as the couple with some problems, but the unrevealing, confusing script doesn’t provide insight into the notorious real-life case and explaining some of Durst's bizarre behavior, especially in the film’s last act. The title of the film, "All Good Things" itself is an odd choice; ironically it's the only thing about the actual Durst case not fictionalized in the film, the name of the health food store Durst and his wife had, but it's such a fleeting, minor part of the movie it seems an ill-fitting name. Sure, it’s supposed to be a metaphor for Durst’s life, though in reality it would apply to just one part of his life and not the case as a whole.
“All Good Things” ends up a vacuous, hazy tale of rich people acting badly, rather than intimately profiling an intriguing, somewhat appalling character as Durst, who as an adult was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, which isn’t even mentioned here. The unresolved missing person case of Kathleen McCormack, Durst’s missing wife since 1982, deserves a more fulfilling, powerful examination than “All Good Things” gives it.