(2010) In 1982 Katherine Marks (Kirsten Dunst) became a missing person after disappearing from her home in Westchester, NY. "She's gone," her husband David Marks (Ryan Gosling) told his father Sanford (Frank Langella): "Now I'm just like you."
At the age of seven, David had witnessed his mother's jumping from the roof of the house to her death on the driveway. Opening with home movies of David with his mother, "Daddy Don't Live in that New York City No More" (a Steely Dan tune), and an attorney questioning David at a trial for the death of Malvern Bump (Philip Baker Hall) in Galveston, Texas, in 2003, director Andrew Jarecki's murder-mystery movie recounts the events of an actual notorious unsolved missing-person's case and homicide, for which screenwriters Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling incorporated court records and newly discovered evidence with speculation, leaving no doubt as to where blame and guilt lie.
In New York City in 1971, after fixing a leaky faucet in an apartment on 53rd Street, David in a tux brings Katie McCarthy to a formal party at his father's home, where she's introduced to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and other luminaries. Declining his father's offer to enter the family business of the Marks Organization ("owns half of Times Square"), David and Katie move back-to-the-land in Rutland, Vermont, where they run the All Good Things food store.
"She's never going to be one of us," Sanford says to David, who answers: "I know. Isn't that great." But after their marriage, Sanford pays a visit, telling Katie: "There's always a way to convince a holdout."
Telling a friend about Katie, "There's nothing I do that she doesn't like," David accedes to his father's desire to join the firm (collecting cash payments from sleazy owners of peep shows and porn theaters) in order to be able to provide his beautiful, sweet wife with material comforts, including a Mercedes, a spacious apartment in Manhattan, and another house in the country.
But something's wrong. Often devoid of emotion, David begins primal-scream therapy to deal with the psychic scarring of his youth. "Don't ask me," David says after a violent display of anger when Katie tells him she's pregnant: "I can't do it." Having an abortion alone - Sanford had ordered David to make collections - Katie turns to her sister Lauren Fleck (Kristen Wiig) who turns her on to cocaine.
Living separately while she attends college and he continues working in the city, after David drags her by the hair out of a family gathering in front of her mother and brother Jim, Katie ("I don't know you at all"), inquires into the possibility of divorce with an attorney, only to find out that she'd be entirely cut off financially since David's assets and income are protected by trusts. In an effort to create motivation for a settlement, she only manages to embarrass David, costing him his father's confidence and losing control of the business to his younger brother Daniel.
In 2000, having fresh evidence, New York District Attorney Janice Rizzo (Diane Venora) reopens the case of Katie Marks's disappearance; David decides to disappear as well to Texas, taking the disguise of a mute female, where he befriends Malvern, an elderly man about to be evicted from his apartment. In Los Angeles, Deborah Lehrman (Lily Rabe), a former friend who has written a novel about a murder, leaves threatening messages, asking for more money, on David's answering machine: "I'm gonna blow the lid off things."
Another Steely Dan song, "Don't Take Me Alive," closes the film. (Here's something you can take away from this film: Beware if buying real estate in Florida.)
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