Few things to like in All Good Things
Guy in a trailer park kills his wife, you've got a news story.
Rich guy kills his wife, you've got a news story with a book deal.
Rich guy kills his wife then starts wearing women's clothes - now you've got a movie.
It's "All Good Things," very loosely based on the unsolved murder of the wife of an heir to a New York real-estate family.
"Things" stars Ryan Gosling as David Marks (all names changed), a troubled young man who's never gotten over the suicide of his mother, which he witnessed as a child.
His unsympathetic father (Frank Langella) sees his son's instability as weakness and pressures him to "man up" and join the family business (slum-lording).
David resists, and when he falls in love (with Kirsten Dunst), he retreats to the countryside, spending a few idyllic months as an organic-market operator.
Eventually, though, his sinister father lures him back to Manhattan, where old demons take hold of David's life and his mind, turning his marriage into an escalating nightmare that ends with his wife missing and presumed dead.
"All Good Things" has a few good things going for it - Langella makes a suitably vampiric patriarch, and Dunst is vividly vulnerable as the girl too slow to realize her husband is losing it.
Gosling, though, has the key role and is the movie's main focus. Long after the movie-of-the-week/murder-mystery elements play out, Gosling continues to explore Marks' mental deterioration, much of it occurring in the exile of a Texas apartment building, where he lives as a woman.
A woman who often dresses to kill (apologies to Brian De Palma), as those who attempt to blackmail or double-cross him learn.
"All Good Things" has its share of grotesque sequences but fancies itself a character study and is mainly concerned with examining what it sees as Marks' traumatized, diseased mind.
As fiction, it would be merely dull. But the movie purports to be based on fact, and its amateur psychoanalyzing feels insufficient, intrusive, speculative, self-serving.
The odor of exploitation hangs over it.