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Dark Places (2015)

Review by CJ

Director:
Gilles Paquet-Brenner

Starring:
Charlize Theron, Corey Stoll, Christina Hendricks, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Chloë Grace Moretz

Other notable appearances:
Andrea Roth, Sean Bridgers, Drea de Matteo, Sterling Jerins, Gillian Flynn

Running time:
113 minutes

Watch this if you liked:
Secret in Their Eyes, Sleepers, Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train

 

Twenty-eight years after her mother and sisters were brutally murdered and her brother jailed for the crimes based on her testimony, Libby Day (Theron) is made to wonder if her memory is — or ever was — as accurate as she thought.

I found Dark Places in a streaming service’s suggestions for me and thought I would give it a crack. The last time I did that turned out to be a big ol’ dud. However, with Dark Places I found a film that was interesting, intricate and reasonably well put together. I hadn’t read the novel upon which it is based before viewer so was interested to discover it was penned by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote Gone Girl.

At under two hours, Dark Places doesn’t go on for too long, but it does feel unfulfilled in some areas. There’s not a lot in terms of peripheral character development where it feels like there should be additional plot lines. Without having read the novel, I can’t tell if this is accurate or if the characters were given the same amount of depth in the novel. I can tell though that it didn’t feel like we were shown a full story. However, this is often the case with book adaptations and not specific to Dark Places, and I felt this way even before realising it was based on a book.

Regardless of the nagging feeling that the film isn’t as fleshed out as it should be, Dark Places has an interesting plot that is driven by good characters and narration that is dark without being too obnoxious.

Theron’s performance as the withdrawn and psychologically scarred Libby Day was fantastic. Theron could portray a moody sponge and it would still be compelling to watch. The rest of the cast give good performances, but aren’t really given any depth to explore.

Overall, Dark Places is an average to good addition to the mystery thriller genre. It’s not great and I don’t believe it will be particularly memorable, but it is a good exploration into the lives of some seriously damaged fictional characters.

Rating:

“The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty – we all have it.”

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