When the Father Spawns a Bad Seed ...
We all pay. In this instance it was those that were brought into the family of David Marks. Matrimonial bliss ... not hardly.
The film opens with the strikingly masculine figure of a woman in a bad blond wig struggling with heavy packages enveloped in an assortment of containers on an old county road bridge in the deep of a very dark night: Foreboding of evil tidings, foreshowing events that symbolize depravity that is the psyche of the bad seed of an emotionally detached father.
The relationship that shaped the outcome of this film did not begin as one who wrought to sow the sentiment of a young couple destined for damaged lives. It began as most relationships that work: Full of kindness, consideration of one another's feelings and complete happiness. Consequently, this story is more an examination of what drove David Marks, played by Ryan Gosling, into a man driven by deception, than the story of what he might have been. Regardless, in either case, those who developed the details of this sinister story: Director Andrew Jarecki and Screenwriters Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling, use the true events, and the supposed devilish deeds of the eccentric New York City Real Estate Heir, Robert Durst, as the basis of this romance gone tragically wrong.
David Marks' sad muse in this romantic tragedy is Katie McCarthy, soon to be Marks, is played by Kirsten Dunst. The emotionally distant father is portrayed by Frank Langella. It is this peculiar familial triangle that sets the stage for all the wrong yet to be wrought.
David Marks found the girl of his dreams at their college in the city, and after their marriage, they moved to Vermont to search for their dream life together, selling health food and other sundries, while discovering the intricacies of their innocent love, so alien from what David grew up knowing, or not knowing.
Before the simple marriage, David Marks' father, Sanford Marks, stated, "She will never be one of us."
David replied, "Yeah, I know ... isn't that great."
It wasn't long after the young couple settled down in Vermont before the father came calling, to endeavor, to bring the boy back into the family real estate business. That was the beginning of the end for David and Katie's relationship, and in the end, Katie.
The family real estate business was was big - one of the biggest in New York City during the late 1970's - but there also was some nefarious dealings involving certain low-life clients in the Time Square District, before days when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani cleaned it up. David was tasked with handling this this component of the family business. It was a cash business.
As David was drawn deeper into the family business, he began to change and became more withdrawn. As he became more withdrawn, he became even more reflective upon his past: A past so destructive, there was no getting over it.
When David was seven years old, he witnessed his mother commit suicide by jumping from the roof of his Connecticut mansion. It was a violent death, one no child should ever be a party to. David was irrevocably scarred, and whatever drove his mother to fling herself from the those calamitous heights was still embodied within his father, which was killing David from the inside out. Soon there would be little left of David that was good and decent, and when all that was gone - so would be Katie.
As aforementioned, this sad story is based on a set of true events of 2 murders that were so very close to Robert Durst, but never solved. Another death, or possible murder, was attributed to Robert Durst, the inspiration for the fictional David Marks, but a Houston, Texas jury bought that Durst acted in self defense, and sent him to prison for only 9 months for the improper disposal of a body.
Director Andrew Jarecki is known for his award winning 2003 documentary film "Capturing the Friedmans," and one might surmise that his treatment of the Robert Durst case through the guise of David Marks also had the overtones of a documentary made into a drama. So thin was the David marks guise, the beleaguered Robert Durst has threatened to sue the producers of this film - The Weinstein Group as well as Director Jarecki.
The threat of a lawsuit is not the only problem the film has. The construction of this film is more like a documentary made into a mysterious drama, but not quite altogether convincing: Feeding the viewing participant with much information, but not developing the characters to a point where we get swept up into their lives, and have that sympathetic bond that connects us to the conclusion of the film.
The film was good enough to keep one's attention, and I did learn much about an issue that is still pertinent in some sectors that Andrew Jarecki saw fit to build a film around. I, however, just was not that entertained, and the 101 minutes I spent with the story was pretty much a wash as to whether my time was well spent. The film was very well acted, I just found the story's construction too loose to drive the creators' point home.
Rated R. Released in Theaters on December 4, 2010.
This post appears courtesy of our sister site, Beaufort County NOW, with their expressed permission.