December 15, 2010 -- This is a movie that should not be seen by people who are thinking about getting married. It describes a marriage that looks fine at first, but slowly turns into hell. It shows a man who seems pretty normal at first, but who later seems to turn into a psychopathic killer, and it is based on a true story.
Kirsten Dunst of the “Spider-Man” movies, stars as Katie Marks, married to New York real estate heir David Marks (played by Ryan Gosling of “Lars and the Real Girl”). The two start a health food store in Vermont and seem very happy together. Then one day, David's father, Sanford Marks (Frank Langella of “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”) stops by and tells David that his wife deserves a much better life than this and can have it if he comes back to work for him in New York.
Leaving well enough for the promise of something better, the two sell their business and move to New York where David works in a fancy office in his father's real estate business. The office, however, seems to be a front for something that looks like organized crime and David's new job is that of a bag man. He personally picks up big cash payments from seedy businesses in Times Square (this part of the story takes place in the early 1970s when Times Square was very sleazy). Sanford Marks talks about cleaning up Times Square, but it appears he is making too much money from pornography and other vice-ridded businesses. The Marks family is well-connected in New York and untouchable by the police, according to the film. There is even a scene in which Daniel Patrick Moynihan (played by Francis Guinan of “The Last Airbender”), a respected politician, refuses to take any action against the Marks family, even when he is seemingly handed the evidence to put them away. He tells his aid to give the evidence back to the Marks family. “It is a family matter,” he says.
Against this background of collecting vice money and being above the law, David Marks seems to become darker, withdrawn and downright evil. There are dark hints about psychological scars from having witnessed his mother's suicide. At last, Katie says that she's never been closer to anyone in her life, but David is still a mystery to her. When she becomes pregnant, David insists that Katie have an abortion. When she goes to college and plans to get a medical degree, David cuts off her credit so she can't afford to continue. She keeps coming back to David, and he keeps slipping farther away from her emotionally. She becomes addicted to cocaine to ease the pain. The Marks family has insulated David's money in trust funds that she cannot access if she separates from David or divorces him. Finally, she simply disappears.
The movie makes a case that David Marks killed his wife, then arranged for the murder of a key witness that could have tied him to the crime. In both cases, he escaped scott free. The cases were never solved. This is a very dark film about a descent into madness, despair and tragedy. How much of this is true and how much is pure speculation, I don't know. It appears that Times Square was finally cleaned up, though. This film rates a B.
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