Dark Places: Film Review

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Dark Places came out in America in the middle of the 2015 and I kept an eye on it because I wanted to see the latest Gillian Flynn novel-to-movie adaptation following the success of Gone Girl. The original U.K. release date was in March or April 2016 and I did not realise it had been bumped up to January until I saw a newspaper review yesterday. Why has it not been promoted over here? Why release it if there is going to be no marketing about it whatsoever? I soon realised the reason when I watched it –it’s simply not very good.

The film is divided between 1985 and the present. In 1985, Libby Day manages to escape from her farm while somebody kills her mother (Christina Hendricks) and two sisters. She tells the police her brother Ben (Tye Sheridan) did it and he goes to jail. Fast forward to the present when Libby (Charlize Theron), in a desperate need for money, agrees to help a true crime fanatics club lead by Lyle (Nicholas Hoult) absolve Ben (now Corey Stoll) of the crime and find out who really did it.

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Gone Girl is a genius book and the movie is on the same level. The issue is that Dark Places as a novel was nowhere near as good and it frustrated the hell out of me, so I was surprised they wanted to make it into a movie but I guess they were hopping on the Flynn book bandwagon (like the John Green bandwagon – the second one, Paper Towns, was not so good). Except this time Flynn didn’t write the screenplay, so clearly she wasn’t as eager to be involved in the project.

When the casting was announced I was thrown because I didn’t see any of them in those roles. Theron is not Libby Day and I was willing for her to prove me wrong but I just kept thinking it throughout the movie. The casting was not right. Ditto for Hoult. I think Sheridan is a great actor and he did well with what he was given, Hendricks is perfect as the struggling single mother and Chloe Grace Moretz proves she can play a manipulative bitch after a string of nice girl roles.

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The cast they managed to line up is extraordinary so it is sad that their talents were wasted on this. The film is not good. I can’t tell if it wanted to be a thriller or study of how Libby’s life has been affected by the tragedy. The tone is not clear. As a thriller, it is too boring and slow and even the big reveal manages to only evoke a ‘meh’ response. As a drama, I did not care about any of the characters enough. It is just all so weak and low-rent, and that is disappointing.

I didn’t enjoy the reveal in the book so that was always going to be a massive problem, but even in the run-up to it, I felt no sense of ‘OMG we’re going to find out who did it’ or feeling any sense of dread or impatience about finding out. It is all just so ‘meh’ – which is something a murder mystery thriller/drama really isn’t supposed to be. What a shame.

In cinemas now

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