While he’s received more attention for his work in “Blue Valentine,” Ryan Gosling is also currently starring in the new film “All Good Things.” Inspired by a true story, Gosling plays a troubled young man whose wife mysteriously disappeared in the 1980’s. Unfortunately, the role of the creepy and emotionally abusive husband is too large for the young actor.
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Gosling plays David Marks, the son of a real estate investor (Frank Langella), who is turned off by the rich lifestyle his father enjoys. When his Dad asks him to fix the kitchen sink of a local tenant, Marks meets a charming young woman named Katie (Kirsten Dunst). Katie is likable and carefree and David quickly starts flirting with her.
The two eventually fall in love and get married. They move to Vermont and open a quaint little health food store. The store is aptly named “All Good Things” because when they eventually leave it, the good things in their life start to disappear. David ultimately takes a corporate job with his father and becomes increasingly unstable and emotionally abusive to his wife. As he starts losing his grip, his wife wonders who she married. “I’ve never been closer to anyone and I don’t know you at all,” she tells her husband as he starts acting more like a monster and less like the man she married.
The role of a husband who starts out as a charming and sweet guy but who quickly becomes overprotective and abusive was a tough role to take on and unfortunately, Gosling fails to pull it off. Gosling, who has done strong work in films like “Half-Nelson” and “Fracture,” doesn’t seem to have the gravitas to manage the role of a suspected killer. The role requires an actor to be both charming and dangerous. He must be likable and slightly unhinged. Gosling is good at being intense and charming but the underlying anger doesn’t feel real. Ultimately, he is let down by a disappointing script which he’s unable to salvage.
When David’s wife eventually disappears, the story falls apart. In its 3rd act, the story centers less on David’s missing wife and the investigation into her disappearance. Instead, it switches gears and shows David trying to disappear from his past. The story focuses on David’s new friendship with Malvern Bump (Philip Baker Hall), a lonely stranger he befriends. Bump appears in the story suddenly and his storyline feels like it belongs in another film. Another storyline involving one of David’s good friends also comes out of nowhere in the final act and doesn’t carry the emotional importance it would have if the movie had focused more on the friendship earlier.
There are some respectable aspects about this otherwise weak film. Frank Langella and Kirsten Dunst do solid work in their supporting roles. “Saturday Night Live’s” Kirsten Wiig also has a strong dramatic cameo in the film as one of Katie’s friends.
“All Good Things” certainly has it’s bright spots, but they are simply overwhelmed by the film’s very serious flaws.