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Originally published Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 3:02 PM

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Movie review

'All Good Things': not quite as compelling as the murder-tale it's based on

A review of the movie "All Good Things," starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. The film is based on the story of Robert Durst, a wealthy New Yorker whose wife disappeared.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 2.5 stars

'All Good Things,' with Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella, Kristen Wiig, Lily Rabe, Philip Baker Hall, Diane Venora. Directed by Andrew Jarecki, from a screenplay by Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling. 101 minutes. Rated R for drug use, violence, language and some sexuality. Seven Gables.

Though well-intentioned and made with skill, Andrew Jarecki's "All Good Things" never recovers from being less interesting than the true story it's "inspired by"; you watch it wanting to scurry off to read accounts of the real thing, rather than being caught up in the filmmaking.

Robert Durst, whose wildly wealthy New York family at one point owned much of midtown Manhattan, may well have murdered his wife, Kathie, whose disappearance in 1982 became one of New York's most famous missing-persons cases. She was never found, and later Durst was linked to two other murders, for which he stood trial for only one. Though he admitted to dismembering and dumping the body of his elderly neighbor, he was acquitted of the murder charge, and now lives as a free man, cushioned by a $65 million settlement from his family.

Jarecki ("Capturing the Friedmans") and screenwriters Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling move quickly through the eventful life of Durst (called David Marks here, and enigmatically played by Ryan Gosling), offering conjecture as to how the three murders were linked, and why he's the only logical person behind them. Kirsten Dunst is sweetly wistful as David's wife, Katie, whose sparkling life force in the early scenes of their courtship visibly bleeds away as the marriage progresses. As David's real-estate magnate father (though the sort of wealthy man who insists on splitting the check at his son's wedding brunch), Frank Langella huffs and puffs. "She'll never be one of us," he tells his son early in the movie, not seeing that that's precisely why David's in love with her.

There's a nicely maintained tension as the story progresses, though Jarecki has a tendency to undercut it with too-melodramatic music (often sounding like a misguided swarm of bees) and weirdly dark interiors. (After "Black Swan" and this, I have to wonder: Does no one in New York turn the lights on?) As "All Good Things" comes to an end, we're given little doubt that David Marks/Robert Durst may well be a murderer; what we still don't know is why.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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