Ryan Gosling portrays David Marks well, trying to develop the many layers of his character with the time allotted. There are several personalities to Marks, the adoring husband, the obedient son, the traumatized victim, and even the cross-dressing sociopath. Kirsten Dunst plays Catherine (Katie) McCarthy Marks, a thinly veiled portrayal of the still-missing McCormack. Dunst has great range here, from initial effervescence to broken defeat. This is a famous true crime story, so I don't think I'm guilty of any spoilers here when I say that she disappears halfway through the movie. Once her presence is gone, the film takes on such a different tone that it's almost an entirely different movie. Frank Langella is dead-on as the manipulative Marks patriarch. Surprisingly, the best performances are by supporting actors. Kristen Wiig brings it as Katie Marks' closest girlfriend. You'd think that such a dark and tragic story should be devoid of comic relief, but she's so believable as the sarcastic and funny friend that it works. In fact, not only does it work, its welcome in this tense and sad story. Also fantastic are Lily Rabe as David Marks' best friend Deborah, and Philip Baker Hall as an unhinged companion in the second act of the film.
The story, while unhappy, is fascinating. There is definitely some ambiguity in the storyline though, that I assume was intentional. (I said "Wait, what was that about?" more than once) Since the crime has never been solved, there is also what I assume is liberty taken with several scenes. One issue I had was that of the main score played throughout. Despite being suspenseful and dramatic, I felt it was too much. More like a soundtrack for a scary ride at a theme park or a puzzle-solving video game. The tone is dark and unnerving, with implied and obvious violence. The color and look are muted and reflective of the time period, as if looking through old Polaroids. I pride myself on seeing twists coming a mile away, but there were quite a few turns that surprised me here.
Truth in Fiction: The filmmakers explain the work that went into researching the true crime story. "Triangulating" accounts from two or three different sources in order to piece together what really happened. They admit that they don't know what really happened, but strived to put together what may have happened and hope to give closure to those affected by the tragedy. Gosling also talks about the personality of his character and the real-life Robert Durst.
Back In Time: Researching The Original Story: True life accounts from friends and family of Kathie and Bob Durst. Pretty interesting and compelling, and plays like a true crime documentary.
Deleted Scenes: Two or three scenes that actually make the story a bit more confusing as they aren't really explained fully.
Interview with Andrew Jarecki: Jarecki discusses the importance of truly researching the real story as opposed to just reading one or two books about it. He talks about how important the real life witnesses and court transcripts were to developing this film. He also goes into detail about the relationship between the two main characters both in reali life and in the film. This does drag on for a bit and tends to be repetitive.
Aging Ryan: A behind-the-scenes look at how make-up artists aged Ryan Gosling. I have to say this is one of the best aging of an actor I've ever seen. Both for Gosling and Rabe's characters.