Synopsis: Inspired by the most notorious missing person’s case in New York history, ALL GOOD THINGS is a love story and murder mystery set against the backdrop of a New York real estate dynasty in the 1980s. The drama portrayed in Andrew Jarecki’s film was inspired by the story of Robert Durst, scion of the wealthy Durst family. Mr. Durst was suspected but never tried for killing his wife Kathie who disappeared in 1982 and was never found.
Release Date: December 3, 2010 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Biography, Drama
Did he or didn’t he? This is the lingering question throughout All Good Things as the relationship between David Marks (Ryan Gosling) and Katie Marks (Kirsten Dunst), his wife, is examined. The question arises from her mysterious disappearance in 1982 and it remains an unsolved case to this day [as the film is inspired by the actual Durst case]. The film begins when David and Katie meet, fall in love, and start their life together. David is part of one of the wealthiest, albeit scandalous, family’s in New York City. Katie grew up in a middle-class Long Island family but found her way to the city to build another life for herself. These two very different people found in each other an alternative life than what they were given from birth. David is a sad soul with demons from his childhood and what he endured before and after his mother’s suicide. With a father more concerned with fortune and ambition than his son’s feelings he lived with privilege but without love. Katie has a strong bond with her family and is the embodiment of sweetness, carefree living, and loving without expectation. They appear to complement each other perfectly and live a peaceful life, far from the grip of David’s father, in Vermont. When David decides to join the family business in New York their world changes as David slowly deteriorates into a form of mental illness and Katie carries the abuse caused by it.
The charming lovers that were David and Katie are slowly manipulated into darker versions of themselves. David gives way to violence, attacking Katie when she upsets him. Katie loses the loveliness of herself and becomes sad, lonely, and scared for her life. As well as selfish as one cannot think but to ask why she does not leave David as his temper worsens and the abuse grows more frequent. The film paints her as having a motive to stay with David, the comfortable life he provides as well as the ability for her to complete medical school while at the same time making the viewer assume she will leave him once she has her life established. Their tumultuous relationship leads to the unanswerable question the film provides: Did David kill Katie? There is no clear answer although the film does offer its own sequence of events as to what transpired.
The movie does not end after Katie’s disappearance, and this is where it falters. It continues by showing David’s life after the scandal when he goes into hiding. A definite change occurs in the narrative and a more episodic, movie-of-the-week approach is taken. This is also where liberties are taken with what we know to be true and what is imagined. New characters are introduced while old characters resurface that may have been involved, or not, with Katie’s disappearance. It all becomes far too predatory towards sensationalizing the story and the sense that this has all been very believable up until now fades away. When David is finally taken into custody and tried for a separate murder the film does regain credit with the viewer. This final portion of the film is incredibly important and necessary to the story of David and Katie. One cannot help but think though that the post-life for David should have been handled differently to keep in line with the excellent direction up until that point.
In order for this film to have worked in any way was the casting of two strong leads who also had the much needed chemistry on screen to fulfill David and Katie Marks. As a viewer we have to fall in love with David, as Katie did, in order to feel the change in his character and their relationship as he spirals out of control. Ryan Gosling manages to be the charming, but tortured soul of David. When his calm existence disappears and the anger spills out of him it is a shocking sight. The sociopathic nature of David is captured by Gosling without fault.
The most captivating performance though belongs to Kirsten Dunst as Katie. She has definitely grown as an actress and shows a level of maturity with this character that is fantastic. The innocent, sweet girl that Katie was Dunst develops into a woman full of agony, grief, longing, and regret. It is not only in her mannerisms, or how she speaks to David as time passes, but in her entire face. Her eyes no longer light up the way they did upon first meeting nor does she smile quite the same as when she was younger. The material Dunst had to work with may not have been the strongest but she has managed to develop a complex character in Katie that steals every scene.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Andrew JareckiBruna PapandreaMarc Smerling
- Producer(s): Marcus HincheyMarc Smerling
- Screenwriter(s): Ryan Gosling (David Marks)Kirsten Dunst (Katie Marks)Frank Langella (Sanford Marks)
- Story: Kristen Wiig (Lauren Fleck)
- Cast: David RosenbloomShelby SiegelMichael SeresinWynn Thomas
- Cinematographer: Rob Simonsen
- Production Designer(s):
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- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
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- Country Of Origin: USA