A crime drama inspired by the real-life case of Robert Durst
Thoroughly compelling, despite its questionable motivations
Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella
It would be interesting to put Andrew Jarecki, a filmmaker drawn to the subject of crime, on a real jury. Based on his two movies, there's no telling how he'd interpret a set of facts.
Jarecki's 2003 documentary, "Capturing the Friedmans," examined the case of a Great Neck computer teacher, Arnold Friedman, and his son Jesse, who were convicted of sexually abusing numerous children. Despite their guilty pleas and mountains of evidence, Jarecki not only made an on-screen case for Jesse's innocence but worked off-screen to help appeal his conviction.
Now, Jarecki has directed "All Good Things," which dramatizes the bizarre true story of real-estate heir Robert Durst. Though people around Durst disappeared or ended up dismembered over the years, he was never convicted of a murder. Yet for whatever reason, Jarecki this time votes guilty.
A barely disguised work of fiction, the film portrays the character based on Durst, David Marks (Ryan Gosling), as the sensitive son of a bullying businessman (Frank Langella). Slowly, David becomes a monster: His Mineola-born wife, Katie (Kirsten Dunst), vanishes. His glamorous friend Deborah (Lily Rabe) gets a bullet in the head. And while David is on the lam disguised as a woman, his lowlife friend Malvern Bump (Philip Baker Hall) literally goes to pieces.
There's no doubt Jarecki can tell a good story, and "All Good Things" - the real name of a health-food store Durst once ran - is thoroughly compelling. But it also feels like one man's attempt to try another in the court of cinema, or perhaps correct the course of justice itself. Jesse Friedman's case was recently reopened; Jarecki may be hoping that Durst's will be next.