A love story and murder mystery based on the most notorious unsolved murder case in New York history. The original screenplay uses newly discovered facts, court records and speculation as the foundation for a story of family, obsession, love and loss.Written by
A disquieting thriller, complexly plotted and with numerous twists and turns which actually turns out to be fairly closely based on a real-life story in America, which kind of shoots to pieces any criticisms I had of the credibility of the narrative development here.
That said, I'm not sure the time-honoured device of flash-backing from the trial of the accused David Marks, with interspersed updates as matters proceed, best serves the flow of the film. Moreover, things do take some time to get moving with too much concentration, in my opinion, on character development, especially on subsidiary characters, before Marks' strangeness starts to manifest itself, although this too is done awkwardly (off- camera conversations with himself, point-blank rejection of having a family with his living wife, peer-pressure from his father) so that I'm not sure I made the leap to psychopathy that Ryan Gosling's character actually makes.
The supposed thriller sequences are done in a hackneyed manner too, with night-time filming, dark shadowy interiors and even thunderstorms outside which work against the realism striven for elsewhere. By the end, after some head-scratching about Marks' transvestism and the strange, fateful relationship he builds up with his elderly fellow- tenant, I felt the movie hadn't satisfactorily plugged the plot-holes along the way for it to flow as it should.
Gosling and Kirsten Dunst are both good in the lead parts, although the shifts in character for the former, as indicated, are difficult to surmount. While Gosling plays each facet of Marks' contrasting personalities at different stages, I'm not sure he convinced this was all mixed up in one person, although that may be down to the writing. I did appreciate the sub-Herrmann use of soundtrack music, but ultimately felt this movie failed to gel in attempting to combine fact-based analysis of a psychotic Norman Bates type character with the conventions of a mainstream Hollywood psychological thriller.
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