All Good Things
Calling your agent, Ryan?

Theatrical Release Date: 12/17/2010
Director: Andrew Jarecki
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella, Lily Rabe, Philip Baker Hall, Kristen Wiig


Tee hee, I’m on a swing!

Andrew Jarecki is best known for his Oscar nominated documentary, “Capturing the Friedmans”. However, the director and his team took a different approach to tackling the story of Robert Durst, son of a wealthy New York real estate empire.

Durst was suspected, but never tried, for the disappearance of his wife, Kathie, in 1982. Jarecki and the screenwriters (Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling) did an exhaustive amount of research, attempting to interview everyone involved with the case and even reaching out to Durst himself, though he declined their request.

But instead of crafting a documentary, “All Good Things” is meant to follow the framework of the case but also deliver a love story/murder mystery. Combining those elements is tricky and the first step to doing so is gathering a talented cast. In this case, Jarecki thought Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst would fit the bill (don’t snicker yet).

Although this is probably Dunst’s best acting effort, she’s still unable to fully shed the spoiled, petulant aura that seems to cling to all of her characters. This works for certain roles, most notably earlier in her career (“Interview with the Vampire”, “The Virgin Suicides”) but at this point, unless it’s some light hearted fluff, it just doesn’t impress (okay, now you can snicker).

Gosling and Frank Langella, playing the head of the Durst family, do some nice work and even comedienne Kristen Wiig does a nice job of handling a dramatic role, but the fundamental problem Jarecki and the screenwriters have is condensing 30 years of information regarding an unsolved murder case into under two hours of film.

The story is simply too broad in scope. Is this about presenting the film makers’ conclusion of what happened? Is this about the problems of one man, suffering from a traumatic childhood incident and possible mental illness? Is this about class warfare? Is this about the problems New York had in trying the case? Well, it’s a bit of all these things but the combination didn’t coalesce very well and it felt like no one was making any clear decisions about what this film was.

A better defined narrative would have helped tremendously and while I appreciate Jarecki’s desire to move into feature films, this material would have been better served via a documentary (and why do all the research if you’re just going to craft a loosely based fictional commentary on the situation anyway?). “All Good Things” tries to take advantage of the weighty constructs within this real-life scenario but falls short, earning it a 2 out of 5.

2 out of 5