On paper a film starring Ryan Gosling, Frank Langella, and Kirsten Dunst, based on a true story about an infamous missing persons case should have been a sure fire hit. Gosling has been very much the man of the hour over the past year or two with a string of stirring performances, Langella’s presence is usually a mark of quality (Masters of the Universe aside), and Dunst has proved a major box office draw throughout her career. So it is shocking to think that this film has been shelved since 2010. Unfortunately after watching it, it’s a little easier to see why this is the case.
All good things is the story of David Marks, the son and heir to his Property Tycoon father’s fortune. He marries a working class girl, Kathy and all seems well. However, his behaviour slowly becomes more and more erratic, before she encounters his violent streak, and some of the dark skeletons hidden in the Marks family closet, and she disappears without a trace. Years later after the death of one of David’s friends, a reporter delves into Kathy’s disappearance and begins to uncover the disturbing truth of what really happened to her.
All good things is a strange and difficult film. In many respects the real life basis of the film strangles the flexibility of the plot, and rather than change the facts of the true events for dramatic license, the makers of the film have chosen to stick rigidly with them, even when it isn’t what is best for the plot of the film. The final twenty minutes are downright bizarre, as intended, but unfortunately the events that transpire (I will do my best not to spoil this) descend into unintentional comedy, which completely ruins the tone the film had successfully created.
Ryan Gosling does his best to save All good things, but it is unfortunately in vain. He portrays David Marks with a minimalism that befits the character’s deteriorating mental state. Even in happier times, he is able to make Marks appear to have a weight of doubt, regret, and confusion conflicting with his happiness. Gosling has proven himself to be one of Hollywood’s premier performers, and he is by far the best thing about All Good Things. Kirsten Dunst does well with what she is given to do, but her character is very one dimensional, and disappears from the narrative within the first hour. Arguably her character’s disappearance would have meant something more to the audience had she not been such a simplified, marginalised character. Frank Langella is exactly what you would expect as Marks’s tyrannical father, overbearing and angry, but understated when necessary. It would be harsh to say Langella is ‘phoning in’ his performance here, but he is definitely not at his best. Having said that, his less than stellar performance is still much better than 90% of actors, and his mere presence does bring a certain level of gravitas to proceedings, even if he is not quite performing to his full potential.
Without being overly critical, it is difficult to find much positive to say about All Good Things. It is a badly scripted, badly directed mess of a film. The acting performances are as good can be expected in the circumstances, but there is no saving this film. The old saying goes’ all good things must come to an end’, however in this instance perhaps all good things should have ended before it even started production. Avoid.
EXTRAS ½ The extras on this DVD are fairly apt for the quality of the film, including a lacklustre commentary, some less than interesting deleted scenes, and a dash of uneventful behind-the-scenes footage.