All Good Things

11 Dec

Title: All Good Things
Year:
2010
Director:
Andrew Jarecki
Writers:
Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling
Starring:
Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella, Kristen Wiig, Philip Baker Hall, Diane Venora, Lily Rabe
MPAA Rating:
R, drug use, violence, language and some sexuality
Runtime:
101 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
6.5
Rotten Tomatoes:
31%

 

I’ve been checking out some reviews for All Good Things and they’re not really all that great. It has a 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, and few have really been that enthusiastic about it. I, on the other hand, found myself kind of loving the film. Maybe it’s because I’m a huge fan of both Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst, who I hadn’t seen in anything for over two years, the last thing she had done being How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, which was subpar and had the misfortune of counting with Megan Fox as part of the cast. Maybe it’s because I thought everyone here gave amazing performances, even though the script did indeed have quite a bunch of clichéd moments. I don’t really know, I just really liked this film.

The film is based on the life of Robert Durst, the real-life son of a real estate tycoon. It takes a few liberties concerning the true story, but it’s still very good, because this is the kind of tale you won’t find in Hollywood all that much. You see, Robert Durst, renamed David Marks in the film, marries a totally ordinary girl named Katie, that would be Ms. Dunst’s character, and they try to flee the powerful life David enjoyed because of his father to make something for themselves. But then David’s dad, which is played really well by the fantastic Frank Langella, gets them to come back, and as they do things take a turn for the dark. Family secrets come out, Katie disappears, murders occur and those dark secrets come back to haunt them decade laters.

It’s a very compelling story, and that’s because the three main actors are so damn good that it’s so effective. Andrew Jarecki is better known for his Oscar-nominated documentary, Capturing the Friedmans, which is a seriously powerful piece of work. In here he creates another hypnotic portrait of a dysfunctional family, slowly but surely introducing us to their lives, to the dark side of the family, and the actors he found for his leading roles are so insanely talented at inhabiting them that he can easily mold the story to his liking. And if you have seen Capturing the Friedmans, you’ll know this is a guy who can tell a helluva good story.

Mr. Gosling is fantastic actor, that’s been known for a while now, and I can’t wait to get to see Blue Valentine to check out what’s sure to be another electrifying performance of his. In here he plays David really well, a son who doesn’t look like his powerful father, who no one would peg as their heir to such a huge empire. And that’s just as well, because he wants nothing to do with that side of his family, which is why he picks Katie, because she’s not like someone who would fit into his family, and who could run away with him. But, like the most masterful and famous family saga in film history said, just when one thinks one’s out, they pull one back in.

Frank Langella is terrific as usual, he’s so empowering as the patriarch, a man who we can tell never takes no for an answer, and his build and voice communicate that clearly in the film. And he bullies his son into coming back to work for him, and David goes back, just like that. We’re never really told why he comes back just like that, but we do know David doesn’t like it, the angry and dark moments Mr. Gosling gives show this perfectly. How he can transform himself from a charming and in love guy, to just a creepily dark man is tremendous.

And then there’s Ms. Dunst. I’m a seriously big fan of hers, and here she is, once again showing us what a good actress she can be. She plays Katie with conviction, a normal girl who marries a man she thought was normal, but as she starts discovering what was beneath that mask she becomes worried, afraid, but she still loves him. And Katie works wonderfully, she’s the character we as audiences can connect to, the only one whose feelings we can see and cling to so as to try and figure out David. A beautifully heartbreaking performance from an actress I hope I never get to go another year without seeing in something.

I don’t know if Mr. Jarecki’s talents as a feature film director are as great as the ones he showed as a documentary filmmaker. Part of me would have liked to see him do a documentary of the real life family of this story. Part of me still likes what he did here quite a lot, the liberties he took with the story, and how he painted David as. Here’s a guy who’s a prime suspect in both his wife’s disappearance and the subsequent murder of one of his best friends, not to mention a guy who pleaded self-defense on the dismemberment of one of his neighbors in Texas. And Mr. Jarecki spends his film trying to get us to look under the many layers of this man, to try and understand him, maybe to pity him, and the result is a film that may prove disturbing to some, and that’s because Mr. Gosling gives such a powerfully raw performance that you can really feel it with you once you finish the movie.

Grade: B+

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