DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
ALL GOOD THINGS (director: Andrew Jarecki; screenwriters: Marcus Hinchey/Marc Smerling; cinematographer: Michael Seresin; editors: David Rosenbloom/Shelby Siegel; music: Rob Simonsen; cast: Ryan Gosling (David Marks), Kirsten Dunst (Katie Marks), Frank Langella (Sanford Marks), Lily Rabe (Deborah Lehrman), Philip Baker Hall (Malvern Bump), Michael Esper (Daniel Marks), Diane Venora (Janice Rizzo), Nick Offerman (Jim McCarthy), Kristen Wiig (Lauren Fleck), Stephen Kunken (Todd Fleck), John Cullum (Richard Panatierre), Diane Venora (DA Rizzo); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Bruna Papandrea/Michael London/Mr. Smerling/Mr. Jarecki; Magnolia; 2010)

 
"Lurid tabloid story, ripped from the day's headlines."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Andrew Jarecki ("Capturing the Friedmans") directs this lurid tabloid story, ripped from the day's headlines. It's based on “The Millionaire Murderer” Robert Durst. He's the eccentric heir to a Manhattan real-estate fortune worth several hundred million dollars, who supposedly got away with three murders in New York, Los Angeles and Galveston (at least according to the filmmaker). The names have been changed to protect all parties, in the well-researched creepy docudrama screenplay by Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling.

David Marks (Ryan Gosling) is the mentally troubled reluctant heir to valuable real-estate located mainly on Times Square, where the properties consist of sex shops and other sleazy enterprises. Sanford Marks (Frank Langella) is his domineering father (the film's second villain) who insists, as his oldest son, David follow in his footsteps in the family real-estate business. David in 1971, in NYC, meets the charming working-class girl Katie McCarthy (Kirsten Dunst), a tenant in one of his father's buildings, and finds her easy to get along with. He marries the fresh-faced Katie and they migrate to Vermont, where he buys a health-food store called All Good Things. But dad lures him back into the business, and the couple move back to NYC. Katie learns that when David was 7 he witnessed his mother's suicide when she jumped off the house roof onto the driveway and has been damaged goods ever since, unsuccessfully treated by professionals.

In 1982 Katie, after feuding with David, disappears and is never found. When the Westchester DA plans on reopening the cold case, twenty years after Katie's disappearance, because of new methods to investigate such cases, David moves incognito to Galveston, Texas, to get away from the investigation. He becomes a cross-dresser, pretends to be a mute and exhibits odd behavior, while befriending his fellow loner tenant Malvern Bump (Philip Baker Hall)--an elderly war veteran facing eviction, who sees in David an answer to his financial woes. Soon David's best friend from NYC, a writer, Deborah Lehrman (Lily Rabe), who the Westchester DA is interested in talking to because her recent novel has things in it that resemble how Katie vanished, is found slain execution-style in LA. Later in Galveston, Texas, Malvern's body parts are found floating in the bay. David admits to killing Malvern in self-defense and throwing his body parts in the bay. Sentenced to 9 months in prison for unlawful burial but exonerated on the murder charge because of self-defense, David's released after serving his prison term and now lives in Florida as a real-estate man.

Despite fine performances from Gosling and Dunst, the pic never moves beyond its tawdry moments and never reaches to become juicy B-film pulp that can get us emotionally involved with the miscarriage of justice story. Perhaps that's because it's too much like a TV magazine story, one that's just meant to be disposable and not stick with us in a dramatic way.

REVIEWED ON 12/19/2010       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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