ALL GOOD THINGS - On DemandNovember 17, 2010
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: Ryan Gosling & Kirsten Dunst in ALL GOOD THINGS (Magnolia Pictures).
Email Amy Slotnick
A notorious unsolved murder case is brought to life in the film ALL GOOD THINGS. Though they changed the names involved, there is no doubt that this is the famous story of Robert Durst, son of well known NY real estate moguls, the unsolved disappearance of his wife and subsequent murders that occur between 1983-2003.
The film opens in 1971 when David Marks (played by Ryan Gosling) is managing one of the many valuable properties in NYC owned by his wealthy family. He is immediately smitten with a new tenant, Katie (played by Kirsten Dunst). She is luminous, free-spirited and optimistic about life, everything anyone in his family is not. Soon after they marry, they move to Vermont for a quiet life running a health food store called All Good Things. But David is pressured to return to NYC to enter the family business and ultimately take over from his father (played by Frank Langella).
Back in NY, the couple moves into a lavish Penthouse apartment and also buys a country home on a lake. But, under his father’s supervision, David is not as easy-going as he had been in VT. Katie starts to witness what seems like bi-polar tendencies and she learns from David’s childhood friend, Deborah (Lily Rabe), that his mother killed herself when he was seven, while David was watching. When David refuses to have children and forces Katie to have an abortion, we start to believe he is psychologically damaged by his mother’s death and may have inherited her mental illness.
After Katie’s abortion, their relationship is never the same. David is failing at work and resents Katie entering medical school. After several violent outbursts and episodes of physical abuse, Katie starts to stay at their weekend home full time and ultimately wants to leave him. Just as she is about to do this, David has another breakdown. In a rage he kills their dog and fights with Katie once she discovers the dog’s blood. What happened next is left a mystery to both the audience as well as in real life. Though a doorman claims he saw Katie the following day, Katie was never heard from again.
The film is inter-cut throughout with testimony from David’s 2003 trial in Texas, where he is being tried for the murder of a neighbor (played by Philip Baker Hall). David claims it was done in self-defense but the filmmakers show us a very different version. At the time, David is living in Texas and concealing his identity by cross-dressing as a woman. Katie is still technically “missing” and his friend Deborah is also suddenly killed in what became an unsolved murder. We learn that ultimately he is acquitted of the murder charge based on self-defense but sentenced to 9 months for illegal disposal of a body. If you ever need a lawyer, that is the one to get!
This is an amazing story from many perspectives and the screenwriters speculate on what may have happened in the true life of Robert Durst and his family. The film’s director, Andrew Jarecki, previously made a great documentary film CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS which also examined a disturbed family and a mystery that was never completely resolved.
ALL GOOD THINGS is a fascinating, spellbinding and suspenseful character story, and a perfect film to watch this fall on VOD.
Amy Slotnick is a contributor to On Demand Weekly. She works as an independent producer and freelance consultant to film financing start-ups. Previously she was a Senior VP of Production at Miramax Films.
ALL GOOD THINGS is available on Magnolia Pictures On Demand until 12/02/10
Running Time: 100 minutes / Rated R
See the Trailer here.