It’s just the strangest thing that All Good Things exists, especially watching it for the first time after watching The Jinx. Yes, All Good Things plays an integral part in The Jinx, because Robert Durst seemed to like how he was portrayed in the film, which was what prompted Durst to agree to the now-famous interviews with director Andrew Jarecki. (Note to filmmakers who have an obsession with an alleged murderer: If you cast Ryan Gosling to play them, that alleged murderer will probably like you.) Anyway, The Jinx made me curious about All Good Things, so I watched it on Monday.
All Good Things feels like a fake movie within a movie that the main character watches about himself or herself, like when James Brolin played Pee Wee Herman in a movie about Pee Wee shown in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. At some point the aforementioned movie character shakes his head and walks out of the theater, then we see the dumb title given to the story of his life. In this case, it’s called All Good Things, and the super-famous, but totally wrong-for-the-part Ryan Gosling stars as Robert Durst (or, here, named David Marks). Kirsten Dunst plays Durst/Marks now “missing” wife. Both Nick Offerman and Kristen Wiig are in this movie as well.
It would make more sense to make a movie about Robert Durst now, after all of the hullabaloo over The Jinx, than it did in 2010. Sure, Durst was covered extensively by the tabloids, but I suspect that if a Durst biopic came out now, it would gross more than $644,000.
Honestly, I didn’t even know All Good Things existed before it was first mentioned during The Jinx. To me, this was one of the true bombshell revelations of the series: There was a movie about Robert Durst starring Ryan Gosling that very few people had ever seen. And judging from the title of the movie and the movie poster, I still have a hard time believing it’s about Robert Durst. I mean, there’s Ryan Gosling on the poster – looking very much like Ryan Gosling — staring at me while he lies peacefully in bed while Kirsten Dunst sleeps by his side. Again, I can see why Robert Durst would like this movie. I can picture Robert Durst seeing this poster and saying out loud, “Yeah, that’s about right,” then blinking very hard five times.
Watching All Good Things post-The Jinx, the thing that really stands out is how serious Gosling plays the role – which is weird because we all now know that the real Durst is a kook. This is a character that’s begging to be played with an air of condescending satire, but here Gosling tries to play Durst with gravitas.
All Good Things, like The Jinx, jumps back and forth and back between Robert Durst’s three alleged murders. (Again, Gosling plays a character named David Marks, but it’s so obviously Durst that [A] I have no idea why they even bothered changing the name and [B] I’m just going to refer to him as Durst.) Also like The Jinx, the film opens with the dismemberment of Morris Black (Philip Baker Hall, playing a character named Malvern Bump; again, why even bother?) before we head back to the 1970s, when Durst first meets his future wife, Kathleen McCormack (Dunst, playing “Katie McCarthy”).
(I just want to point out one more time how hilarious all these fake names are. I would have liked to have been in the room when someone said, “Hm, Morris Black… Morris Black… how can we change that name? Wait, I’ve got it! How about Malvern Bump?)
All Good Things is, not surprisingly, not a particularly good movie. But it is fascinating in that it says way more about Andrew Jarecki than it does Robert Durst. It’s as if we get to take a look inside Jarecki’s obsession with Durst with this almost fan fiction account of Durst’s life. In Jarecki’s mind, Durst is a stoic killer, as opposed to the nutty weirdo that we all saw in The Jinx. In Jarecki’s mind, Durst is Ryan Gosling, while we all see Durst as more of a David Lynch-type. Again, it’s no wonder why Durst liked this movie. It’s like Tom Cruise playing Austin Powers. (Or, maybe he’s just a big Nick Offerman fan.)
I will guess that Jarecki changed the names in All Good Things because he wanted to take some liberties with the story. The strangest thing about All Good Things is that Durst/Marks convinces Black/Bump to kill Susan Berman/Deborah Lehrman (hey, it rhymes), which is then why Durst kills Black. At one point did Jarecki believe that’s what happened? If not, why put this in the movie? The only purpose it serves is to give Durst an even bigger reason to kill Black. It’s an odd choice, but also the most fascinating choice.
Look, if you wind up watching All Good Things, you’re basically playing into Jarecki’s plan, which is exactly what happened to me. He had posters littered throughout The Jinx and it’s hard to blame the guy for plugging his old movie on the same topic. The thing is, if you liked The Jinx and want a better sense of where Jarecki is coming from, All Good Things is worth watching. But if you’re looking to find out more about Durst, this isn’t the movie for you. If you don’t care about either of these things (and, if so, why are you still reading this?), but you really enjoy subpar Ryan Gosling movies, well, you’re in luck.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.