Andrew Jarecki, director of the fascinating documentary-cum-mystery Capturing the Friedmans, is now trying his hand at a slightly (only slightly!) more fictionalized tale with his new film, All Good Things. Having changed the names (from the real life surname of Durst, to the movie version of Marks) but not the situations, Jarecki's movie is based (much more than loosely) on the 1970's New York disappearance, and most likely murder, of Kathleen McCormack (here billed as Katie Marks and played with a charming aplomb by Kirsten Dunst) and with an audacious flair that makes one think of Brian De Palma and his 2006 film Black Dahlia, the director has decided to, more or less, solve this still unsolved case - whether it be the truth or not (though most likely it is). Unfortunately for us (and I suppose Mr. Jarecki too), the intense what-if scenario and emotional brutality of The Friedmans never comes through in the blatantly inferior, almost made-for-TV-like All Good Things - no matter how well acted it may very well be.
And as for that aforementioned acting - it is quite good indeed. Good enough I suppose, to make up for the mainly superficial, but still quite glaring flaws in the directorial style of Jarecki's new movie. Ryan Gosling, portraying the would-be wife-murderer David Marks, is of course, brilliantly devious in his role - a subtle but devastating blend of broken man and monster - a persona the actor takes on in his other currently playing movie Blue Valentine (and I think that as much as I was impressed with Blue Valentine, that is how much I was disappointed with this film). Kirsten Dunst as the naive would-be med student, who falls for Gosling's black sheep millionaire's son and ends up as a true crime subject, is also, in a somewhat more surprising way, quite good in this movie (though I do think Dunst is too often lumped in with the pretty-but-dimwitted crowd and doesn't get the credit she usually deserves as the subtly proficient and skillful actor that she is). Still though, no matter how good these two actors are at the roles they are playing, the film ends up as something somewhere between a semi-bore and, once the final act kicks in any and all semblance of a serious-minded movie seems to fall to the wayside, a big hot mess of a movie. Still, it is fascinating to wonder where director Jarecki is going to go next. [12/15/10]