As far as the Los Angeles District Attorney is concerned, the murder trial against Robert Durst—the subject of the HBO documentary series The Jinx—must seem like a slam dunk. After all, the final episode of that series famously featured a recording of Durst saying, “What the hell did I do? Killed ‘em all, of course,” and now it looks like the prosecutors are using this opportunity to make what is already a weird case even weirder by pulling a certifiably ridiculous stunt. As reported by Deadline, the D.A.’s office is trying to get director Andrew Jarecki’s 2010 film All Good Things, which stars Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst, entered in as evidence against Durst.
This is going to require some backstory, but it turns out that it’s only slightly less weird than it sounds: Durst has been accused of killing his wife, his friend, and a neighbor, and All Good Things is actually a fictionalized version of the allegations against him. Gosling plays the Durst character, whose name is not Robert Durst in the film, with Dunst playing the wife he allegedly murdered. As the D.A. explains, the real Durst saw the movie and read the script, but even though it clearly shows the Durst analogue killing three people and a dog, he chose not to sue the production company or even offer any denials that the story in the film was different from the real story. In fact, he contacted Jarecki and told him that All Good Things was “very, very, very close” to what had really happened, and Durst was even so impressed with Jarecki’s film that he agreed to sit down with the director for his next project, which happened to be HBO’s The Jinx—during which, again, he seemingly confessed to the murders.
Basically, the D.A. is saying that, since Robert Durst had no problem with the claims made in the fictionalized adaptation of the allegations against him, then it should be fair to present the fictionalized adaptation in court. Deadline explains that this is what the legal system calls an “adoptive admission,” which essentially means that evidence that would normally be considered hearsay can still be admitted if the person accused of the crime is aware of the evidence and has indicated that it’s legitimate. The D.A. even notes that Durst knew his statements to Jarecki would be used for the DVD commentary on All Good Things and that he had his lawyer present when he made them, so his adoptive admissions “were freely, knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently made.”
One of the weirder parts of all of this is that All Good Things isn’t even a particularly good movie, but if it gets accepted as evidence in this trial it’ll essentially become a real-life Miracle On 34th Street—only with an alleged murderer instead of Santa Claus. That’s way more interesting than any discussions about its merits as a film.