Teen Review: ‘All Good Things’
New Teen Critic Gives Thumbs Up to Murder Tale
Monday, December 20, 2010
Credit: The Weinstein Company
The film “All Good Things” (opened December 17 at Landmark's Ken Cinema) says it is based on true events.
Andrew Jarecki's "All Good Things," like many recent films, claims to be based on facts. Although I didn't think I could believe such claims after "Paranormal Activity," I could definitely believe this mysterious tale of love, crime, deceit, and murder. It is what American crime mysteries have transformed into. They have gone from black and white film noir of the 40s to gritty mind-bending cop films of the 90’s to these reality-based true crime tales.
"All Good Things" is a prime example of what the film-noir genre and today’s audiences need. Jarecki has given us the standard, and we are left to interpret it into our own adversities or sociopathic tendencies.
Being a teenager a lot of the problems these characters face are unfamiliar to me. So the film is aimed at a more adult audience since it involves a married couple, as well as court hearings. Yet that hasn’t hindered me from enjoying the movie. In fact, it's kind of comforting that I can't to relate to some of these characters.
"All Good Things" is not just a story of death or the power of wealth to corrupt or even love-turned-psychotic. It is more of a re-interpreted celebrity criminal case -- one of those traumatizing news stories we hear and then forgot about. In “All Good Things” Ryan Gosling plays David Marks, the delinquent bachelor-son of one of the top property owners in New York, Sanford Marks (Frank Langella). To everyone’s surprise, David marries Katie (Kirsten Dunst). She’s a young, naïve, beautiful girl, who knows absolutely nothing about him, other than his family’s bankroll.
As for the appeal of this film to a younger-but-not-too-young audience (since the MPAA gave it an R rating) let’s just say the two main characters are considerably attractive and that's a draw. There may be plenty of intense moments, but with a supporting character played by comedienne Kristin Wiig, expect a laugh or two as well. Gosling’s character is constantly changing, becoming more and more ridiculous as the story develops. I found it amusing to see him go from wearing suits to please his father to T-shirts and jeans as he develops a love for nature. Then he moves back to the city, wearing a suit and tie to become corporate leader, and after that phase moving on to a BTK-with-too-many-pastel-sweaters look. Eventually – when he decides to shed his identity and go incognito -- he is badly dressed as a woman and is unlikely to fool anyone.
“All Good Things” takes you back to a pitch-perfect replica of the 1970’s, imitating the music, fashion, drugs, and politics. The way Sanford Marks runs the family company is rather sketchy, but when we see David rolling blunts and talking to himself, it’s hard to say who the real bad guy is here. After the disappearance of his beautiful bride, the bad guy is obviously David. But in 2003, no one seems to believe it.
We, the audience, are given bits and pieces of information and events, but also many questions. It’s not so much of a “whodunit” mystery as it is a “what the hell’s gonna happen next?” I often found myself thinking, “Why isn’t anyone stopping this crazy mofo!” And not always in reference to David Marks. We are given good examples of the fallacies about the benefits of being wealthy. Every character is a great example of how money can be a weakness and doesn't necessarily buy happiness. The minor characters help balance the dark immorality with sincerity and a true love for their family and friends. But then there's plenty of desperation, bribery, murder, and such to make it all the more interesting.
Jarecki likes to visit the past in the past, but then he always brings us back to the safety of the present. Visually, the use of color contrast the vivid with dreary, complimenting the way the story is being told. Jarecki uses a lack of color to reflect a lack of life, or any kind of sanity. I love how the camera is used to convey the different visual styles for each time period. In the beginning, the same camera used to film a childish portrayal of violence is also used to depict his wedding. It’s a constant theme of capturing a moment, and holding on to it. It represents images that still haunt these characters, but seen from the different viewpoints of each.
"All Good Things" (rated R for drug use, violence, language and some sexuality) has a distinct style. It is tragic, mysterious, modern, and ironic. Plus it had all those Steely Dan songs. And the superb use of strings and piano for a well-orchestrated crescendo from creepy to horrifying in certain scenes. Overall, it’s a good film. Whether on the big screen or on the small, I suggest you watch it.
--Lidia Marin is a senior attending Mount Miguel High School and is currently taking a Film as Lit Class.
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