In theory, Andrew Jarecki, director of the 2003 documentary Capturing the Friedmans, is a great choice to bring the tabloid tragedy of Robert Durst to the big screen. The heir to a New York real estate dynasty, Durst looked to be the main suspect after his wife mysteriously disappeared in 1982. These suspicions never coalesced into a formal charge—a fact that many believed had much to do with his wealth and well-connected family name. And the eyebrow-raising near misses with the law didn’t end there. After being suspected (but again not charged) in the murder of friend Susan Berman eighteen years later, Durst was finally put on trial in 2003 for the slaying of neighbor Morris Black, but was later acquitted. It’s pretty sordid stuff; but then again, so was the morass of sexual abuse allegations that tore apart a “normal” upper-middle class Jewish family in Friedmans. Working within a milieu of highly publicized (and factually ambiguous) criminal accusations similar to that dramatized here, Jarecki offered an assiduously even-handed account that acknowledged both the tortured humanity of the suspects and the complexities of the legal system that charged them. And while the film’s lengthy string of revelations made for juicy, twist-a-minute viewing, it seemed to come from a spirit of honest inquiry.
All Good Things technically leaves the question of Durst’s guilt unresolved, with Jarecki and screenwriters Marc Smerling and Marcus Hinchey taking their “inspiration” from the Durst killings while changing many of the characters’ names. The real mystery, however, is who killed the clear-eyed directorial inquisitiveness evident in Jarecki’s earlier work. Read Matt Connolly’s review of All Good Things.