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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Unhappily Ever After
by Betty Jo Tucker

Don't believe this film's title! All Good Things offers a disturbing tale of mystery and murder. Director Andrew Jareckiís drama, which is based on a true story, co-stars Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst as a man and woman who fall in love despite their different economic backgrounds. Unfortunately, one of them ends up missing and the other becomes a suspect in two killings. To top it all off, issues relating to social class, crime, mental problems and marital crises are explored haphazardly in this overly ambitious film.   

When we first meet David Marks (Gosling), itís clear heís not comfortable being the heir to a business fortune. Itís also quite evident that his father, Sanford Marks (Frank Langella) -- a wealthy New York City businessman -- disapproves of Katie (Dunst), Davidís choice for a wife. ďSheíll never be one of us,Ē Mr. Marks warns his son. Still, Davidís father backs ďAll Good Things,Ē a natural food store the newlyweds open. But financial difficulties arise, and David decides to work for papa after all. Meanwhile, tensions develop on the home front. David is adamant about not having children, so when Katie is forced to have an abortion, she starts to wonder about their relationship.

Katieís decision to go to medical school also threatens David and results in a harrowing scene of humiliation at a party. Her subsequent disappearance causes many to believe that David may have killed her. Later, David faces charges of murdering an elderly Texas man (Philip Baker Hall), and we canít help thinking that he may also be implicated in the killing of Katieís friend Deborah (Lily Rabe).

Langella (The Box) stands out as Davidís domineering father here, and Dunst (Elizabethtown) earns our empathy with an appealing and believable performance. But Goslingís (Fracture) David is difficult to understand as we watch him go through so many stages. What motivates him? Could a particular childhood trauma cause David to be so unstable? Whatís the significance of David wearing womenís clothes in the latter part of the film? I still donít know for sure, and I tried to pay close attention to what was happening on screen, which wasnít easy during some darkly filmed sequences.   

Because this movie is based on the real events of Robert Durstís life and his wifeís famous unsolved missing-persons case, it might have been better as a documentary. After all, Jarecki won considerable acclaim for his 2003 documentary Capturing the Friedmans. Too bad it was so much harder to capture the Dursts.   

(Released by Magnolia Pictures and rated ďRĒ for drug use, violence, language and some sexuality.)

For more information about All Good Things, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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