One terrific movie you may have heard of, but probably have not seen is “Blue Valentine”. It’s a very realistic drama that is bringing some very high praise to its two stars, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. All the accolades they are getting is very well deserved and look for them both to be showing up on Oscar night as nominees in their respective categories. Ryan Gosling probably gives the best performance of his career in “Blue Valentine” so it’s perplexing to see him in “All Good Things” where he gives one of his worse performances.
The movie gets its inspiration from the real life case involving Robert Durst, who’s name was changed to David Marks (Gosling) for the movie, and the disappearance of his wife in 1982 Katie McCarthy (Kirsten Dunst). David is the son of New York Real Estate tycoon Sanford Marks who is portrayed as a slum lord in the movie. David originally gets out from under his father’s thumb and starts a country store with Katie called All Good Things, but Sanford eventually lures his son back and into his crooked world. Over time David becomes more and more unstable. When Katie disappears without a trace, everyone assumed David murdered her, but there was not enough evidence to convict. The fact that David fled and spent his life as a cross dresser was not enough to do so either.
Like Gosling’s co-star in “Blue Valentine” Dunst is excellent in this movie giving one of the best performances of her career. She had disappeared from the movie scene for a while, but is back! Gosling, on the other hand, appears completely lost in this movie. He never seems sure of himself. You never see the character of David Marks in this movie, you see the actor Ryan Gosling continuing trying to figure out who his character is and what motivates him. You almost get the feeling he is looking off to the side of the camera looking for help from his director.
The director in question is Andrew Jarecki whose movie “Capturing the Friedmans” won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and was nominated for an Oscar as well. That’s great, except keep in mind that “Capturing the Friedmans” is a documentary! “All Good Things” is Jarecki’s first narrative feature. No one else outside of Dunst is memorable in this movie. Frank Langella plays Sanford, but the veteran is playing a role he has played dozens of times over, a role he can play in his sleep. Did Dunst do all this on her own? She’s grown up doing this and after her break from movies it can be assumed she came back really motivated. Judging on how bad Gosling was one might guess he got some terrible directing from Jarecki leading to the conclusion that the director does not have the first clue on how to work with actors. He does not appear to any gift at story structure either as the movie bounces all over the place with no real rhyme or reason at all.
It should be noted that the movie was made in early 2008 and was delayed several times before finally getting a limited release in 2010. Financial reasons were the explanation, but the proof is in the pudding and maybe the studio realized they had a real turkey on their hands. The movie is rated R for drug use, violence, language, nudity and some sexuality. It is currently showing at the following theaters:
Coral Gables, FL: Coral Gables Art Cinema
North Miami, FL: Intracoastal 8
Boca Raton, FL: Living Room Cinema 4