The Jinx of All Good Things

SPOILER ALERT: what follows may ruin not one but two films for you, so proceed with caution.

The Jinx, Andrew Jerecki’s masterful documentary about the life and crimes of billionaire real estate heir (and Voldemort’s cousin) Robert Durst, sent shockwaves through the web-o-sphere unfelt there since the days of the blue/black/white/gold dress (which, for the record, is actually a solid shade of whogivesaf**k). So thrilling, Jarecki’s six-episode exposé left viewers asking the obvious question: why did the story’s 2010 fictional adaptation, All Good Things, shit the bed?

Here’s my theory…

The Jinx shows us a duplicitous Robert Durst, a conniving worm of a man who, time and again, evades the justice he so clearly deserves. With alarmingly smarmy confidence he repeatedly denies the crimes of which he certainly appears guilty. To anyone watching The Jinx, Robert Durst looks like a stone cold, dyed in the wool psychopath.

All Good Things stars Ryan Gosling.

The reality is, the story of Robert Durst is a messy one, and to pretend otherwise is an unfortunate tendency in popular biopics. Ryan Gosling is an actor of undeniable skill. I love the unpredictable choices he makes as he carefully crafts each of his performances. But there are certain qualities you can’t direct an actor to have, or as with this case, not to have. Along with some dubious plot elements, Gosling’s looks and charisma made him easier for audiences to empathize with, which dulled the drama. The film would have been better served by a different actor at the helm, and the fault lies with Andrew Jarecki. As they say, directing is 90% casting.

So who should have played David Marks/Robert Durst in All Good Things? Here’s a list of ten actors I think would have made better psychopaths. There’s a poll at the end of the post, so click on whichever option you prefer. If you have a better idea, put it in a comment.

Joaquin Phoenix

Transformative, quirky, unpredictable, damaged, Joaquin Phoenix excels at taking on the bizarre mannerisms of his characters. Sometimes it seems as if a little bit of each role stays with him.

Adam Scott

Scott is likeable, which is one of the scariest things about Robert Durst. Durst is rarely very brooding, in fact he treats everything fairly lightly. You start to think, “How could this guy be responsible for such heinous acts?”

Cillian Murphy

Creepy, creepy, and creepy, Murphy shocked us in Red Eye and chilled us in Batman Begins. He has the ability to be menacing while maintaining a twinkle in his eye, which Durst seems to do with every breath.

James McAvoy

A solid actor of vast emotional depth, McAvoy picks up whatever burdens his characters have, and carries them through to the finish.

Tom Hiddleston

As Loki, Hiddleston reminded us that true villains can be motivated by genuine feelings and still be ruthless, because they’ve forsaken the feelings of other people.

Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne is on fire following his Oscar win. He’s a bit young for the part, but he’s a chameleon, and could probably pull off the age gap. Redmayne seems to have blue blood in his veins. Like Durst, he’s a creature of privilege. There’s something lonely and sorrowful about his eyes that could lend a layer of uncertainty to the role.

Pablo Schreiber

Schreiber is less well known, but ready to explode onto the big screen. In Law and Order SVU he proved he’s up to the task of playing a deeply disturbed, unapologetic killer, and on Orange is the New Black we sure do love to hate him.

Christian Bale

Yea he’s done the serial killer thing, but who would fault anyone for letting him do it again? He brilliantly captures the emotional disconnect characteristic of psychopaths. Perfect, since murder doesn’t seem to carry the same weight for Durst as it does for ordinary people.

Crispin Glover

OK, so Glover might be a little old for the younger scenes, but most of All Good Things takes place when Durst is 39 or older. Glover will be 51 on April 20, but he still looks at least ten years younger. Plus, come on, Willard?

William Fichtner

Again with the whole age thing, let’s say Fichtner would’ve made a great choice like, ten years ago. Never really given the reins in a feature, I think William Fichtner has the look and the chops to pull off Durst. Conniving, calculating, intelligent, he can really nail the duplicitous evasion tactics Durst constantly employs. Plus he’s got those perfectly beady eyes.

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Originally published at thepipesthepipes.wordpress.com on April 20, 2015.

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