For a story about a crime so full of weird details, there is absolutely nothing interesting about All Good Things. It’s just an episode of Unsolved Mysteries only they tricked some really good actors into being in it with the promise of Oscar, but Oscar will not be one of all good things that All Good Things might receive.
David Marks (Ryan Gosling) starts out as a hopeful young lad rebelling against his father, Sanford (Frank Langella). It’s one of those rich business families where the thing to do is be the same as everyone else, and David sees a better future with Katie (Kirsten Dunst). After they’re married, David returns to the family business after all and basically becomes his dad. Katie tries to get out but then disappears and no one’s been able to prove David did it.
There’s actually some good old age makeup on Gosling. I’ll give the, that. Gosling is so method he probably just aged 20 years for the role. The story he’s telling via flashback is still weak.
The Marks family story is just a middling collection of stifled ambitions. There are a lot of appalling events, but none are given any impact. It’s just a collection of detached moments. The young Marks’s are struggling, there’s family pressure, David starts living by other people’s rules, they do drugs in the ‘70s, there’s abortion and suicide. There’s no drama about it though.
These are the signature cues of abuse that are supposed to automatically generate sympathy, but it’s cheap. Especially cheap since some poor woman actually went through this. I hate movies about joyless people middling through mediocrity. At least most abusers revel in it so there’s some drama.
The crime is barely established. The Marks business seems to involve shady real estate but it doesn’t seem really significant. They make real estate deals, they pressure tenants for money but the Marks family doesn’t make any impression outside of this small world.
The film sets up as much fake suspense as it can too. Katie bends down to reveal David is standing behind her, but this isn’t the scene where he kills her so that’s not scary. She’s not even at risk in this scene, they’re just pretending she is.
David goes way off the rails about 20 minutes from the end, but even then the film generates no drama from his extreme behavior. He’s just moping through scenes with a slightly more extreme affect, but it seems more like an exercise than a character departure. Supporting characters like Deborah Lehrman (Lily Rabe) pop in to act outrageous by saying motherf*cker and exaggerating their conversation. That is also weak.
It’s just so surprising that all these elements make a weak film. The story seems meaty. The roles seem meaty. They talent involved sure have the chops. It’s got to be the writing (Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling) and directing (Andrew Jarecki) then, right? I guess it takes more than a good story to tell a good story.