The only question about Ryan Gosling this awards season is: Which of his two astonishingly detailed performances will win him the nomination?
He gives a heart-breaking portrayal of a man watching his marriage collapse in the upcoming Blue Valentine. But his work as creepy wife-killer (or is that alleged wife-killer?) David Marks in Andrew Jarecki's All Good Things is just as impressive: specific, unfussy, and downright chilling.
Based on the true story of real-estate scion Robert Durst, All Good Things keeps the audience guessing right from the start: As an attorney examines David in a courtroom on the soundtrack, we see someone -- a woman, it appears -- driving a car to a deserted bridge and dumping a large trashbag into the water below. It is an image Jarecki returns to a couple more times before he unravels the enigma of just what it is we're watching.
Having shown us the older David -- complete with thinning hair and an age-spotted face - in the opening moments, Jarecki jumps back in time to the early 1970s, where David is a recent college graduate who resists the attempts by his father, Sanford (Frank Langella), to conscript him into the family business. Instead, David falls for Katie (Kirsten Dunst), a golden shiksa princess from Long Island.
They marry quietly at City Hall (his father is his only guest, her mother hers -- and the ultra-wealthy Sanford forces Katie's mom to split the tab for lunch afterwards), then go to Vermont, where the happy couple opens a health-food store. It is an idyllic existence: living a semi-hippie lifestyle (supported by his father), smoking pot, away from the pressure and demands of his family.
Eventually, however, his father gets his way and forces David to come back to the city and work for him. His reward is a lavish apartment on Fifth Avenue, with another house in northern Westchester. Still, David and Katie have each other -- or they do until David admits that, no, he has no interest in having children, something Katie desperately wants.
The rest of Jarecki's film is a descent into David's internal madness, though we get no real explanation of what it is that's affecting him.