“Dark Places” is the second film adaption from a Gillian Flynn novel. The first, “Gone Girl,” was a huge hit. In “Dark Places,” Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron headlines in “Dark Places” as the adult Libby Day. As a child she suffered a tragedy as her brother was convicted of killing her family. It’s apparent at the onset that the grow-up Libby has been living with demons since the childhood massacre. She has been making a living by donations and from proceeds of a biography, that she didn’t even read. But people are forgetting about Libby and money is running low.
Things just couldn’t seem worst when she is approached by a kill club member. Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult) asks Libby to meet with his club that is investigating the murder of her family. They think that Libby’s brother was wrongfully convicted. At first, Libby uses the group for the money they can give her. After all, she knows her brother Ben (Corey Stoll) has been in jail for over twenty five years and has never filed an appeal. That surely speaks for his guilt.
“Dark Places” is less melodramatic than that of “Gone Girl” and much more conventional, yet a thoughtful thriller. The film is sincerely dark and may seem too brooding, but it is actually a well-crafted way of making the audience feel the doom and gloom that the main character is feeling. The movie features flashbacks of Libby’s childhood and the movement between modern day and the past move effectively. Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner reins in the mood and keeps it dark during the entire film. It never lifts, until Libby’s own dark days are done.
Charlize Theron does more than an adequate job as Libby Day. Theron also served as a producer on the picture and it is curious if Theron searches for the same type of roles, as this is one of many roles in which she tries to downplay her beauty to don on a simpler persona. This being said, she does a fine job, but I would suggest that Theron start mixing up her next choices. Otherwise, audiences will overlook her really good work when it comes.
The supporting cast do their job to support the main character well. Most noteworthy is the job by Christina Hendricks, who plays Libby’s overwhelmed mother in flashbacks. She distances herself completely from her role in “Mad Men,” and it was delightful to see her stretch her acting talent.
“Dark Places” won’t get any attention during award season as it much more of a conventional film. Lately, the word “conventional” has been used to describe films in a negative connotation. But if the film is good, just as “Dark Places” is, then its convention should not drag it down with the bad. Looking for a film that keeps you guessing and doesn’t insult your intelligence? Then “Dark Places” is a good choice. Most likely, you will appreciate the light upon leaving the movie theater as a few hours in the dark is far better than that of lifetime of darkness that Libby Day knows.
“Dark Places” is rated R for some disturbing violence, language, drug use and sexual content and has a run-time of 113 minutes.