Mr. David Marks was suspected but never tried for killing his wife Katie who disappeared in 1982, but the truth is eventually revealed.
Year 1, Day 335
BEFORE: After reading what I thought was an impressive two chapters of A Feast for Crows on the bus home (the amount being the impressive part there), I arrived only to find out I’d been lapped by another friend in the Game of Thrones books. While I’ve long since resigned to the fact I’ll never be a fast reader, one thing I know I can maintain in speed and volume is watching movies and All Good Things takes the honor of closing out the eleventh month of this movie marathon and starting a three-day Ryan Gosling chain (last seen in The Notebook).
AFTER: At the beginning of the film, I jokingly thought, “I’m sorry, but I don’t see the point of this line of questioning.” David Marks (Ryan Gosling) is on trial (we find out for what much later on in the film) and he’s being asked a whole bunch of questions about his past and his life. The other main component of the beginning, and also recurs throughout the film, is a shot of someone pulling up to a bridge late at night and then throwing garbage bags full of stuff over the side. The film is very confusing and not explained (some parts not until the very end), but it’s also mysterious and intriguing.
My poor attempt at a joke was meant to really question the approach the filmmakers took. It was interesting enough to draw me in, but it took a while for me to fully connect with the film. The events that unfold, beginning in 1971 and ending in 2003 and all based off true events (Robert Durst being the real-life David Sparks) are fascinating. Watching the progression and change in David and Katie Sparks’ (Kirsten Dunst) relationship and their relationships with others is hard to believe. You see the inner workings of these characters and hints of things to come, but a lot revolves around subtlety. Most of what happens is subdued and contained within small scenes but these are contrasted with some big actions, especially toward the end. And Gosling and Dunst give stellar performances, Dunst in particular. With a lot riding on subtle behaviors and responses it’s necessary to have a deep understanding of these characters which the leads certainly have. It’s not until the end when the final titles show appear (the ones that explain where everyone is today and what’s happened since) that I was taken aback a bit. I had gotten lost in these characters and their story, I was accepting things and forgoing others that I probably shouldn’t have.
This actually ties back to my first comment about the approach. The film is bookended by a broader look at the story by showing the courtroom and trial David Marks is on (again, I won’t say for what). Now we hear voice overs throughout the film but those serve more as narration rather than separate plot devices. The beginning and end are were the problems lie. For the rest of the film, it’s a thriller, but this is contrasted with a biography of sorts. While you are aware the whole time All Good Things is based off true events, most of the film plays like fiction. It’s enjoyable and fun to watch, it just seems like it was fabricated (a lot probably was). The problem is trying to have the best of both worlds: have statements of fact - what is taking place in real-life - combined with made up plot points that are tailored to the narrative they’re trying to pass.
All Good Things was an exciting, and at many times thrilling, story. It’s filled with many great performances (shout out here also to Frank Langella who plays David’s father) and really gets the little details. The big picture though is where it’s less solid with the bookends of the film introducing doubt as to whether what you just watched was true or not. Overall all though, I’d say this is definitely worth a watch, especially if you’re looking for a good crime film.
RATING: 4 out of 5