All Good Things (2010)

Does she know how fucked up you are?

All Good Things is a slow, intense breakdown of one David Marks (Ryan Gosling) an unstable rich kid, who falls in love and eventually loses his mind. The story revolves around the disappearence of Marks’ wife, Katie (Kirsten Dunst) and the complicated relationship between a son and his father (Frank Langella as Sanford Marks).

Although on paper the film has all the ingredients to succeed as a psychological thriller, the slow pace and lack of high points makes the film a tad unsatisfactory. Coming in with high expectations, the actors don’t dissapoint, but the leveled intensity leaves a tense feel to the film. As we watch Gosling’s character unravel from a handsome, confident Richie Rich who’s eager to please, into a paranoid, murderous and manipulative shell of a man, we witness a, once again, intelligent and subtle performance. Dunst’s Katie’s vigour and aura of happiness is stifled by the unstable Marks who leaves her in the brink of divorce. But he won’t let her go.

With such an interesting look into the mind of a supposed schizophrenic (who later turns out to be diagnosed with severe personality disorders and manic depression), the pacing and constant intensity sets the stage for disappointment. Those intence moments needed to be contrasted with other feelings, but the mood remains consistently tight and tense.

A first time director (Andrew Jarecki) doesn’t really deliver or exite in a way many other first-timers have done recently. Directors like Duncan Jones have brought the audience pieces that leave you hungry for more. Jarecki on the other hand makes you wish he’d have stayed with composing the music for Felicity. A director needs to hold all strings in his hands, keeping a balance of artistry and stay away from the treacherous road of blindsidedness. Jarecki relies too much on the stylistics and doesn’t let the story breather on its own.

The slow pace of the film can to the unaccustomed eye equal boring, but boring isn’t a word I’d use to describe All Good Things. I appreciate the lack of a will to please this movie seems to have; with the inclusion of difficult themes, scenes and an intensity not rivaled by many, All Good Things definitely isn’t an easy film nor does it wish to be one. All too often the audience craves a neat little package of traditional way of storytelling, where all ends are met in a familiar way. Still, the lack of a resolution threw me off my game though; as an audience member, you need to be given at least some sort of lifeline.

Keeping its focus on the characters, the film relies a bit too much on its strengths leaving the rest (the story, the feel) feeling uncompleted. Still, the actors give out great performances, making the film a succesful portrayal of a twisted mind. Based on (or rather inspired by) the life story of one Robert Durst, the film’s weakness is revealed in it’s lack of focus. The aims and themes are left quite ambiguous as the viewer is left wondering what the point, or rather the lesson, of the film was.

As the details of Durst’s killings and plots are revealed, the story feels incredulous. Did the guy really dress up as a woman for years in order to hide from the public eye? How was he able to manipulate people into killing someone for nothing? The story becomes then a tad difficult to follow, as not all secrets are revealed, the details around the disappearence of Durst’s wife were never found, neither was her body; therefore the whole film remains surrounded by mystery.

Personally I would’ve loved to have seen more dynamic between the Marks’. Having both suffered a terrible tragedy years before in the tragic suicide (or was it murder?) of David’s mother and Sanford’s wife, the complicated relationship they held would’ve made for some pretty awesome screentime. When two such great actors collide, there’s a need to use all the magic they have.

All in all, All Good Things stands out from the formulated procedurals Hollywood spits out every 4 months. The film keeps the viewer in a tight hold, leaving a lingering feel of uneasiness. The detached look on Marks’ face will haunt you for days. A fairly satisfactory rental for an intense moment.

You Will Like All Good Things If…

– you’re looking for an interesting character study.
– Ryan Gosling is your cuppa.
– you don’t get anxious.

6 / 10

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11 responses to “All Good Things (2010)

    • I don’t get how they a) were allowed to make a film with little to no experience and b) persuaded so many talented actors to go along with it!

  1. I might be slightly biased in her favor, but I thought Dunst stole this movie. I thought she did an extremely credible job of making you believe she would have stayed with him in the face of the downward slope of their marriage. And when she got moved out of the picture it left you feeling awful both because she made you care so much about her and because then the movie was nowhere near as good.

    • You’re right, she was great. I’ve just recently warmed up to her, so that’s probably why I’m not raving on about her. She’s not in the film much though, so that’s why I found Gosling more impactful. Thanks for your input Nicholas!

  2. I have this move in my to watch pile. From your write up I am probably going to leave it there for a while rather than bump it up a bit.

    Although I do love Gosling and Dunst. Ah well Thanks for sharing Anna

  3. Dunst as Nick says is great here. It’s such a brilliant performance that I felt almost angry that she wasn’t given better material to work with. The film didn’t seem interested in her, or being as good as it could have been but her performance is proof that she’s still a good actor. And, yet, I don’t think the film is terrible. Not good, but still worth seeing…sort of.

  4. I have heard about this film but have never seen it. I don’t remember it’s cinema release. I like Gosling and Dunst, but it seems like a project where their talents are wasted. That’s a shame! Perhaps I’ll get around to seeing it one day. Nice review Anna!

  5. Pingback: Close-Up : Kirsten Dunst | Split Reel·

  6. I enjoyed this film, hadn’t really seen much hype about it, but when I watched in on netflix I was pleasantly surprised. I did feel like there was no resolution, as you said. The one thing that was the most surprising was that this was based on a real guy…how sick.

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