Why ‘The Jinx’ Owes Its Existence to a Bizarre Movie About Robert Durst


Certainly true crime stories have been adapted for the screen many times. What’s wild about this one is that Durst himself watched “All Good Things” and decided that he liked it. After years of refusing to talk to the news media, he contacted Jarecki and said he’d be willing to sit down for interviews. In a very real sense, “All Good Things” is the reason “The Jinx” even exists.

But the strangest part — I can’t wrap my head around it — is that Durst offered to record a commentary track for the DVD release of “All Good Things.” On it, he mostly concurs with the order of events, while never admitting outright to the murders. He agrees that a disturbing scene in which Marks grabs Katie’s hair and virtually drags her out of a family party actually happened; he says that one scene, in which Katie flees to a neighbor’s home during a fight, is “more or less accurate.” His only real quibble is the suggestion that he killed the family dog.

This is the kind of move calculated to baffle, and the more you try to explain it, the less sense it makes. Was Durst aware of how this looked? Did he have a screw or two loose? Had he simply lived his life in the kind of ultrarich world that can free one from the bounds of time, space and logic? Or did he simply think he was smarter than everyone else and could never really get caught?

“The Jinx: Part Two” goes a long way toward suggesting those last two questions, combined, provide the answer. After all, five years after “All Good Things,” he was the star of an HBO documentary series, one he clearly thought would not indict him. He was so wealthy that his friends, whether they liked him or not, were willing to turn a blind eye to whatever they might suspect in order to stay in his good graces. Why wouldn’t you think you were invincible?

The new show returns us to the “Jinx” courtroom scene, too. If you watched a movie about yourself and the crimes you may have committed, and you called up the director and said you’d like to chat, and you recorded a very complimentary commentary track, then a lawyer’s argument that it’s just a story someone made up doesn’t hold as much water. It’s indisputably true that media and entertainment influence the way juries view cases — that’s just part of a human-based justice system.

But entertainment doesn’t exist in a parallel dimension. It weaves through society at large, influencing how we view one another and, more important, ourselves. Even if we’re jurors. Even if we’re Robert Durst.



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