The old saying goes that a movie is as good as its villain, and that sentiment applies even more than usual to true-crime docudramas. By casting Ryan Gosling as the profoundly disturbed scion of a New York real-estate tycoon, director Andrew Jarecki makes All Good Things -- his thinly veiled retelling of the infamous Robert Durst case -- into one of the better examples of the genre.
As the film opens, David Marks (Gosling), a seemingly sweet, slightly awkward young man visits Katie (Kirsten Dunst), one of the tenants in a building owned by his father's company, when she complains of a leaky faucet. They soon marry, and build an organic food shop. However, David's insistent father (Frank Langella) demands he join the family business, and soon his dad's threats to cut David off financially -- as well as his not-so-subtle hints that Katie will leave him unless he starts making serious money -- force David to capitulate.
Saying much more about the bizarre events that follow from this ill-fated decision -- like David's eventual foray into cross-dressing, and pretending to be mute -- would rob viewers of the opportunity to appreciate Gosling's superb work in the film. David's slow descent into psychopathic madness grows more chilling with every scene, in part because he makes us dismiss the early warning signs of his latent maniacal tendencies as little more than the garden-variety troubles of anyone raised in wealth who lost their mother at a young age; his early insistence that he doesn't ever want to have kids seems to come from a place of neediness that we eventually discover is bottomless.
But as David's outrageous, manipulative behavior grows more and more frightening, Gosling plays the character even more controlled and internal. David is slowly imploding, and the result for viewers is a gradual increase in tension that never really gets released. All Good Things isn't a pleasurable film to experience, but it offers an uncanny evocation of a narcissistic sociopath who doesn't come at us with the charm and sophistication that the typical screen bad guy has. That makes the movie worth seeking out for true-crime buffs, as well as anyone who just likes being profoundly scared by how horrible some people can be.
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- Released: 2010
- Rating: R
- Review: The old saying goes that a movie is as good as its villain, and that sentiment applies even more than usual to true-crime docudramas. By casting Ryan Gosling as the profoundly disturbed scion of a New York real-estate tycoon, director Andrew Jarecki makes… (more)