Synopsis: David Marks (Ryan Gosling) was suspected but never tried for killing his wife Katie (Kirsten Dunst) who disappeared in 1982, but the truth is eventually revealed.
I tend to be pretty hot on recent and upcoming Ryan Gosling movies as he is firmly in the top 4 or 5 actors I most enjoy watching at the moment. So when my most recent copy of Total Film magazine came through the door last week and I saw the entire back page taken up with the promo poster for All Good Things with him and Kirsten “Cat Face” Dunst I was a little surprised I hadn’t heard of it before now. Then I saw it was advertised for general DVD release rather than theatrical release and I quickly realised it was evidently skipping the cinema circuit and going straight for home streaming/DVD/BluRay. That’s usually a bad sign. But as it is a Ryan Gosling movie I felt compelled to watch it regardless.
I remember thinking when I started watching it that Gosling looked a lot younger than his more recent movies. When I researched it turns out this film was actually made 2009/2010 and released as a straight to cable effort in the US in November 2010. Weirdly it was then given limited theatrical release afterwards across the US in December 2010. It took a measly $500,000, officially making it a bust, although on limited screens that probably isn’t a terrible return per seat available. The fact that is has then been released on a drip feed across the world since 2011 ending up on DVD release this Monday (18th) in the UK would give you the impression that this is a fat, gobbling, wobbly turkey of a movie. Which it isn’t.
The worst thing you could say about All Good Things is; i’s solid. It doesn’t rock the boat. It felt at times like I was watching an above average TV movie with A-List cast. I must admit I am surprised by just how glowing a review it received from Roger Ebert, a man whose opinion I respect very much. It really didn’t feel like anything special. Based on, or “inspired by” as everyone likes to say now, real events it follows a well trodden story of highly dysfunctional members of a sickeningly wealthy and powerful family in New York and the poor down to earth girl who marries into them, her soul and life destroyed in the process. Gosling and Dunst are both fine in the lead roles. He continues to show a real talent for portraying emotionally disturbed and introvert characters through small movements, sounds and facial tics. All the time they were on screen together I enjoyed watching them and the emotions of their relationship felt grounded in something real.
There were some things that either didn’t work or fell a bit flat. First they tried to set up a couple of twists through smoke and mirror photography, kind of like the whole 12 Monkey’s airport bit where every time you see a little more, until at the end you see it all in the big reveal. Problem being anyone who has seen a thriller before will spot the twist the moment it is set up. This was Andrew Jarercki’s first and only narrative fiction piece after his brilliant documentary Capturing The Friedmans. It’s strange because that movie showed a talent for creating drama, but I wonder whether having tension created organically by the subjects around him was easier than having to manufacture it. He’s obviously a talented filmaker though so it’s a shame he only has these two credits to his name.
The other thing was a problematic inconsistency with the ageing of the characters. The story starts in 1971 and ends in 2003. So when it starts we meet Ryan Gosling as he looks now, young etc. We also meet his dad (Frank Langella) who also looks as he does now, which is in his late 60’s early 70’s. By the time we get to 2000 Ryan Gosling has been made to look 50 with heavy make up and a wig, but Frank Langella still looks the same age. Either he aged really early on or stopped ageing and is supposed to be a youthful looking 100. Either way I kept thinking about it and it kept pulling me out of the story which was distracting It was the same as his friend who we meet in the 70s and by the early 2000s looks pretty much the same. It bugged me.
Finally, it wasn’t a plus or minus point, just two weird pieces of casting in the same movie. Given this was a dramatic story with little in the way of comedic relief it was a bit surprising to see two almost exclusively comedic actors in it; Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live; Bridesmaids) as Dunst’s best buddy; and Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreations; 21 Jump Street) as her older brother.
All in all this was a perfectly fine way of passing a couple of hours. The story was fairly formulaic and left me feeling a bit short changed at the end but the individual performances were enough to keep this from feeling like a failure.
Director: Andrew Jarecki – Hit international acclaim with fantastically intrusive documentary Capturing The Friedmans. This is his only other main directorial credit and his only fictional (albeit based in a certain amount of fact) effort. Weirdly his other major credit is the composer for the theme tune to late 90’s teen drama Felicity. Who else is famously linked to Felicity as an early effort?……JJ Abrams.
Writers: Marcus Hinchey (only credit) and Marc Smerling (only writing credit. Producer credit on Capturing The Friedmans)
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella, Kristen Wiig, Nick Offerman, Phillip Baker Hall
- Ryan Gosling felt so bad about a scene he had to pull Kirsten Dunst‘s hair, he sent her flowers the day after.
- Kirsten Dunst was the first actor cast in the movie.
- Kirsten Dunst revealed on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that the real person that David Marks is based on visited the set of the film being made and watched from a distance.
On DVD and streaming on BlinkBox