Review by Nathan Samdahl (C+)
Remaining firmly in the shadow of Ryan Gosling's other performance this winter, his new mystery/thriller All Good Things is currently sneaking its way into a few theaters. And given Gosling's brilliant turn in Blue Valentine, that's probably just fine with him. All Good Things is a decent film with a solid first half and a clumsy second.
Kirsten Dunst and Gosling play David and Katie Marks, a young couple that despite their socio-economic differences start out strong before complications begin to tear their relationship apart. Most of these complications stem from Gosling's wealthy real estate tycoon father, played by Frank Langhella, who tries again and again to draw his son back to the family business and create a divide between the young couple.
The first half of the film builds this father-couple relationship successfully. Eventually, despite all of David and Katie's efforts to resist, David succumbs to his father's wishes to join him. Gosling is effective as his character begins to fracture and lose control throughout this process. Finally, on a dark stormy night, Katie goes missing and is never seen again.
The second half highlights All Good Things' biggest flaw, which is its poor structure. Much of the second half, instead of dealing with the direct aftermath and mystery surrounding Katie's disappearance, focuses primarily on David about 20 years later as he is now an older man trying to escape the limelight created by the case. And did I mention David is now also a cross dresser?
This movie does not seem to know what it wants to be. If it wants to be a taut mystery thriller then it seems the story should be focused entirely around the time of the actual disappearance, not 20 years later when all tension is removed. Similar to many biopics, All Good Things wants so much to show all of the interesting and strange events in David's life instead of simply focusing on a defined period.
The end result is a mismatch of tone, character and storytelling techniques. Simply put, if anyone can explain to me why watching Gosling in old man makeup for 30-40 minutes is a good idea, please let me know.
Also, in terms of the story itself - while it is based on a true story - All Good Things still feels ripped from the annals of "Law & Order". As an avid watcher of shows like "Forensic Files" and "Investigators", too, I know there are more engaging and fascinating stories out there than the muddle one featured here.
As is, All Good Things is definitely not a total miss, but if you want to see a great Ryan Gosling film this year, watch Blue Valentine.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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