Movie Review: All Good Things
All Good Things is a movie suffused with underlying loss.
Posted January 3, 2011
All Good Things is a movie suffused with underlying loss—it permeates the eerie machinations of the main character David Marks (a fictionalized version of Robert Durst, son of a wealthy developer, his wife notoriously missing). His mother killed herself when he was a small boy. This ostensibly leaves David Marks guarded. At times he appears psychotic, talking to himself and acting strangely, even violently to his wife.
Marks’ marriage unravels when he is compelled by obligation to work in his family real estate business. We are led to believe he is too afraid to have a child or make responsible decisions that he was permanently scarred after witnessing his mother’s fatal jump off a roof. In one of the most heart wrenching scenes (although the viewer feels unsympathetic since David Marks has ostensibly murdered his wife) he confronts his father about why he hadn’t protected him from seeing his mother jump. His father explained he’d hoped if his wife saw his son, it would keep her from jumping.
A family left after suicide wants a narrative of healing, but it can be difficult as the inclination is to look for someone to blame. Even if we understand ninety percent of suicides are caused by mental illness, families still may fault each other. Toxic distrust and a sense of betrayal can derail communication and healing. The real life brother of Robert Durst, scion of a three-generation real estate empire is quoted in the news as saying, “I always wonder what would have happened, had she (my mother) lived. And so I’m sure it had a huge affect on all my siblings and me. Having raised three children of my own, I’m amazed my father was able to raise children by himself, I just find that an astounding accomplishment.”
When I was a child trying to understand my mother’s suicide (which occurred when I was four years old) I would often be confused about the difference between murder and suicide. Young children find it impossible to imagine a parent would willingly leave them, nor can they comprehend how a mother or father could feel so tortured they would not think of their children. Kids can secretly think their parent was murdered even if they are told the truth. In All Good Things the message is unsettling for those of us who may feel marked by suicide but not stunted. Although Ryan Gosling does a gripping portrayal depicting a troubled man’s disturbing decline, the psychological integrity of the film is unconvincing. The untold story is about how two brothers were affected in such vastly different ways by the loss of their mother.
Portrayals of children left behind (by violence, by death, by tragedy) are so often stories of madness and scars—but there is another story: Those who are left strong at the broken places. I would love to see that movie.