THE BEAUTIFUL YOUNG medical student Kathleen McCormack disappeared from her New York home in 1982—and because wealth + beauty = everybody's business, her real-estate heir husband Robert Durst has long made an irresistible prime suspect in the nation's popular imagination. Durst was never tried for McCormack's disappearance, but "until proven guilty" doesn't factor into All Good Things' lurid dramatization of the couple's rise and fall. Director Andrew Jarecki (Capturing the Friedmans) and writers Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling have concocted a scenario in which "David Marks" (Ryan Gosling, a thinly veiled Durst), kills his wife Katie (Kirsten Dunst) in a fit of madness stemming from witnessing his own mother's suicide as a boy.
All Good Things' cinematic indictment seems irresponsible at best, but the film has enough storytelling problems to sink the endeavor on a purely dramatic level. Jarecki's got a fondness for cheap metaphors and easy parallels: As a hitman shoots a woman in the back of the head, David swats a fly with a rolled-up newspaper. When David's murderous rage finally reaches a boiling point, so does the teakettle in the neighbor's kitchen.
David and Katie's relationship is given lengthy yet superficial attention—Kirsten Dunst's sole character attribute is that she's "very pretty," as we're told no less than three times (Now do you believe it? How about now?). The couple is happy together until David's father forces them to abandon their '70s cliché of a life plan (running a health food shop in Vermont), insisting instead that David return to New York and take his place in the family business, at which point Ryan Gosling starts parting his hair in a creepy, murder-foreshadowing way.
In lavishing so much screentime on the couple's relationship, far more interesting (and factually supported!) material is glossed over: David later flees New York for Texas, where he lives in disguise as a woman and befriends, then murders an elderly neighbor. Forget the missing wife—now that's a story.