All Good Things

Ryan Gosling has got to be one of the best actors of our time. This man is awesome. Consider this film – All Good Things directed by first time non-documentary director Andrew Jarecki and inspired by the life of accused murderer Robert Durst and released in late 2010. This is the kind of stark & dark movie that could cause you to have sleepless thoughs about people late in the night. The movie costars Kristen Dunst, Frank Langella & Kristen Wiig (in a small role but so totally different from what we expect from her). The events of the movie are from 1973 till 2004.

Gosling plays David Marks, the son of a wealthy real estate tycoon and who has rejected his family’s wealth and business. He married a beautiful girl Katie (Dunst) who is from middle class family. They are initially very happy together, move from New York city to Vermont, to start a health food store in front of an idyllic cottage. However the formidable Sanford mark (Langella) lures his son back to the city and makes him work for him in the family business. At first we see David enjoying the rich man’s lifestyle, going to disco parties, joining his rich friends. We see an unraveling of the mind – from a happy, carefree young man in love, David becomes withdrawn, solitary and totally at unease with the world. He spends more and more time at work. The young couple buys a country home and Katie begins to spend more time alone there with just their dog for company, while she completes her college education.

Katie eventually applies to medical school while trying to understand David’s mood swings and unwillingness to have children. She gets into a good college much to David’s anger. As she becomes increasingly independent, David mysteriously turns more violent and controlling. He starts to do poorly at work, a job he did not want at all and was almost forced into joining by his father. At one point the older Marks calls David in and says that due to David’s ineptitude he is giving control of the company to his younger son. David seems to snap internally on this news and while he is at Katie’s birthday celebration at her folk’s house, he appears sullen and withdrawn. He asks her to leave within a few minutes of them settling in, which she refuses. David goes to wait in the car but then he goes back in, grabs her by the hair and drags her home.

A family secret is revealed about David – he watched his mother commit suicide by jumping off the roof of their family mansion. In a confrontational scene between father and son, the older Marks says that he made David watch as he had hoped that his wife wouldn’t jump if her young son was a witness. David continues his abusive treatment of his wife. Finally she goes missing from their home, never to be seen again. It is implied in the movie that David killed her. He has his longtime friend Deborah pretend to be her, with a wig that looks just like Katie’s hairstyle, so the doorman of their building can see her hail a cab after making a phone call from a booth next to their building. The case was reopened 20 years later and David – dressed as a woman — retreats to Galveston, Texas, where he befriends his neighbor Malvern Bump (Philip Baker Hall). Bump becomes a confidant for David and the former goes to Los Angeles to kill David’s friend Deborah, shot execution style in the back of the head.

David later kills Bump and dismembers his corpse and dumps it in the bay. He is questioned in the death of Deborah but never charged with anything. He finally confesses to killing Bump when evidence piles up against him but he is able to convincingly plead self-defense. In the end, David served just 3 years in jail for bail jumping and evidence tampering (for dumping Bump’s body and not coming forward). Once he gets out, he leaves for Florida where he sells real estate.

Well worth watching, the cast delivers a solid performance even though the movie might drag a bit and not really set the heart racing with tension. Good movie. 8 out of 10!

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