Title: All Good Things
Genre(s): Crime, Drama, Mystery
Director(s): Andrew Jarecki
Release Year: 2010
Rotten Tomatoes: 32%
This likely will not be the last film I review of Ryan Gosling’s career, seeing as how he’s an actor that seems to know what his limits are and when to push them. It seems he only ever gets recognition for The Notebook by mass audiences, and that’s likely due to him picking off-beat roles that make the audience take a step back and re-evaluate who they thought he was. A movie that so evidently did this was last year’s Drive and it was mainly because of the silent persona of the Driver that let Gosling really demonstrate his acting chops and play a role he does not get to play often. For those who want more of this type of role from him, I do recommend checking out All Good Things which shows a less stable version of the Driver, in the form of David Marks.
All Good Things is ultimately a true story, inspired by the life events of Robert Durst, with just some name changes. For example, Robert Durst is instead called David Marks. Played meticulously by Gosling, All Good Things is a story of how one’s secrets are ultimately more destructive than beneficial, and how one event can forever change the personality of someone. To help present this story is Gosling’s co-star Kirsten Dunst, who plays Katie Marks, a woman kept in the dark about her husband’s past. Dunst and Gosling both go quid pro quo in terms of acting, each benefiting the other’s performance. It’s their acting alone which helps anchor this film from ‘forgettable’ to ‘worth checking out.’ The rest of the supporting cast give serviceable performances, and it was nice to see both Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation) and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Saturday Night Live) doing dramatic roles, even if they themselves didn’t really get much screen time or chances to shine. Also, worth noting that Frank Langella and Philip Baker Hall both gave great performances as well.
However, as much as I enjoyed the acting in the film, there are so many overused mystery and thriller elements in the film that it becomes hard to really care about what’s happening. I don’t want to give away what happens exactly, even though it is based on a true story, but there’s essentially a fourth act in this movie that doesn’t really add much to the film except give a little more depth to Gosling’s character and move the story forward in a more interesting way, though still nothing new. Unfortunately, it’s 35 minutes of extra film that feels somewhat out of place, making the movie a somewhat disconnected feature. Once again though, it is based on a true story, so it feels wrong for me to complain about the events that occur being blatantly different in nature, but they do ruin the vibe of the movie and I think that is the main problem with All Good Things; it hits its stride about 35 minutes into the film, and then for the next 25 minutes it is interesting and enjoyable. But afterwards, it becomes interesting without the emotion.
The movie definitely had some great promise though, with two great lead actors and a director who was able to previously make a true story both interesting and entertaining with his documentary Capturing the Friedmans. Where Andrew Jarecki goes wrong is that All Good Things is not a documentary like his previous effort. There’s lots of attention to detail in every aspect of the film’s narrative, but the film relies more heavily on showing a police case than it does on showing an emotionally engaging film that could easily have been so much more. The movie just becomes too confused with what it is. One moment it’s a drama, the next a thriller, and the next a crime film. There is such thing as a genre mash-up but it has been done in much better ways than this. That being said, the acting in this film is worth checking out, especially if you are a big Ryan Gosling or Kirsten Dunst fan. They both surpass the film they’re attached to, and it’s nice to have seen them both embrace dramatic roles like these. But not even great acting can save a film that can’t even figure out what it wants to be.
Overall: Not Recommended