Robert Durst and the Creepiest DVD Commentary Ever

I‘ve mentioned the movie All Good Things in this space before because it’s a feature film about one of our area’s most disturbing true-crime stories: the disappearance of Kathleen Durst from South Salem’s Lake Truesdale neighborhood.

Her disappearance has never been solved, and the case is still classified as a missing-persons case. (If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the story despite its prevalence in the press whenever something new pops up, my colleague Nancy L. Claus’s 2004 article can catch you up pretty quickly.) Director Andrew Jarecki—known for directing a similarly not-cut-and-dried crime documentary Capturing the Friedmans—became interested in the story and decided to make a film about it. He and two other producers/ screenwriters spent about two and a half years researching—reading court transcripts, interviewing friends and family, etc.—before finalizing a script.
What results, though, is a work of fiction, not a documentary. Ryan Gosling, who is far more attractive than Robert Durst, plays the Durst-inspired character, whose name is changed to David Marks for the sake of the story. All of the names are changed, in fact.

That makes sense. After all, Robert Durst, though often suspected to be the main player in his wife’s disappearance, was never convicted of anything having to do with her. He’s living life as a free man in Florida. You’d think he’d be a little bit upset if a movie came out that portrayed him as a wife-abusing possible killer and used his real name.

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Which is why it’s shocking, to me at least, that Durst shows up to provide a commentary for the movie’s DVD release. For it, he sits down with the director. They watch the whole thing from start to finish, with Jarecki prompting Durst to talk about both the accuracy of the events presented in the film and his life in New York and Westchester.

Really, the whole thing is pretty chilling. The movie opens with old-style, home-movie footage, and Durst talks about his memories of an idyllic childhood in Scarsdale—and he seems human. Later, though, the movie gets to a scene where Ryan Gosling’s character angrily drags Kirsten Dunst’s character out of a party by her hair (in front of her family), and Durst dispassionately reports that the scene is pretty true to their relationship in real life, or “close enough.”

Durst talks about the ways he used to control Kathie (cutting off her funds, refusing to pay her tuition), the fights they had, and other intimate details, without revealing much emotion in his voice. But then he gets upset that the movie intimated that he killed his dog, and tells the director that’s something he’d never do.

And, concerning his role in what happened to Kathie, he stays mum. He refers to her disappearance—not her murder—but never says he had nothing to do with it. Brrrrr, right?

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For those interested in the story, there are other features on the DVD that would be of interest. One feature shows some of the first-hand interviews that the director and producers conducted. This gets into some dirt about the investigation, and features Joseph Becerra, who was involved in re-opening the case when he was a detective at the Somers Town Police Department. Though he remains diplomatic throughout his interview, it’s hinted for him by others that he was pulled off the case because he was stealing too much of the spotlight away from then-DA Jeanine Pirro. (In his commentary, Durst has unkind things to say about Pirro, too. I guess both cops and criminals have that in common.)

Have you seen All Good Things? Would you listen to a commentary track with a suspected murderer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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