All Good Things is based on the true story of a real estate mogul accused of three murders but let off the hook. David Marks (Ryan Gosling) watched his mother jump off the roof and “crack her skull like a walnut.” He hid under a table for a week. When he came out, it was as if it never happened. In spite of therapy, the feeling associated with the memory doesn’t change and the issue remains unresolved. Adding fuel to the fire is his overbearing father (Frank Langella) who needles at his conscience for not being as involved as he’s expected to be in the family affairs and often reminds him of his scrounger status. Ultimately, David falls prey to the manipulation and joins his father’s real estate firm. I can’t go on in this direction because this is where the mystery starts.
What I will tell you is that this is a first-rate murder mystery. I understand why most critics panned the film though. They wanted a satisfactory explanation. But there isn’t one. The film’s director Andrew Jarecki has simply taken all the facts from the case and presented them in just that manner. The film is based on facts, facts that are inconclusive. No one really knows what happened which is why David wasn’t convicted. Based on what Jarecki’s heard on the characters involved, he tells the story and lets you decide whether David is guilty or innocent.
The obvious characterization is excusable because this isn’t a character drama it’s a thriller. Kirsten Dunst excels as Katie Marks, David’s love interest. Nevertheless, the film stays on David and his struggle with the voices screaming in his head. You don’t hear them but you see the conflict on the actor’s face in every frame. Gosling is ticking dynamite. It’s a performance of repressed intensity. Each and every time he makes an appearance, you hold your breath expecting him to explode. You never know when, but you know it will happen. However, it isn’t just the actor who brings forth the character. The cinematography and the score have nakedly exposed the character’s mind- his fears, his urges, his angst. Its synergy is what makes All Good Things a triumph of ambience.
Rating – 8/10