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What do you expect from a story with a title like that? You do indeed
find them in this earnest and thoughtful movie. A fifteen-year-old boy
accused of pedophilia and Satan worship who gets his girlfriend
pregnant and is then accused of murdering his mother and two sisters by
his third sister - how much darker can you get without it seeming too
As with Flynn's other tale brought to the cinema, Gone Girl, there is a mystery at the heart of the story that leads to a surprise ending that has been carefully built up but is nonetheless completely unexpected. A constellation of great character actors helps populate this dreary landscape of poverty and despair. And it does end with a note of resolution and hope. The truth shall set you free.
The plot revolves around an event that takes place in 1985 and an investigation thirty years later that seeks justice for the boy sent to jail for killing three family members. Fans of the book should be pleased with the faithful and sensitive adaptation.
I went last night to the world premiere in Paris. Charlize Theron was there, thanking the French people for understanding her attraction to dark places. Her brilliant performance may not get her another Oscar - the film itself is not the sort of story that many will find entertaining - but she has again created a memorable character who suffers and is redeemed.
Unlike Gone Girl (which I liked a lot), this movie does not have a major plot twist in the middle. This is a Whodunit, with the finger pointed on a different character every 15 minutes or so. And instead of flashy, campy directing by David Fincher, Paquet- Brenner opts for social realism and... dark. Which is a good thing, because it keeps the focus on the plot which is thick, and moves at breakneck speed. The past and the present are interwoven seamlessly until the end, which was surprisingly moving - and for my money more satisfying than Gone Girl's. The acting is solid throughout, with special mention to Christina Hendricks and Corey Stoll as the emotional core. Hendricks is absolutely stellar. Gillian Flynn's unique voice comes through in the Voice Over narration and the dialogues which are at times funny and quite cynical. This time, the themes are growing up as a victim, confronting your past, the satanic panic of the 80's, as as with Gone Girl, the lies we tell ourselves and others. Definitely worth the price of admission. 9/10
I am one of the lucky guys to watch this movie in Paris earlier than
the fans around the world. After the initial 30 minutes, the movie
starts picking up its pace which was maintained till the end.The
screenplay and direction were near perfect.
Needless to say, Charlize Theron has done an amazing job in acting. She carries the film on her shoulder from the beginning to the end. Next to her, Chloe has done a good job. Apart from these actors, the other people play a little role.
I can say that it's better than Gone Girl. Just go for it people. You won't get disappointed. My rating : 9/10.
Dark Places was interesting but not as riveting as I had hoped. I never
had a chance to read the book - because the movie came out very early
in France - so I watched the film with fresh eyes not knowing what I
was in for. Problem solver that I am, I watched the film looking for
clues but I fairly quickly had all the right suspects lined up before I
even got through a quarter of the movie. I don't know if it's a
testament to my "mad" deductive skills or a lack of mystery in the
story telling. The exact same thing happened to me with Gone Girl - the
book - which is why I didn't finish reading it. I guess I was hopping
for more of a challenge with Dark Places, something that would have
surprised me at the end.
Anyway, I still enjoyed the film, particularly how Libby's past memories were shot. They had an 1980s feel to them, I mean in the quality of the images, they had an old VHS tape look to them. They were grainy and shaky, which also gave them an horror movie vibe, while at the same time illustrating how Libby feels about them.
The film is like the title suggest dark, and I'm not just talking about the murders but the whole context the characters are in. It's socially realistic, you really feel for the struggling mother (Christina Hendricks) and her kids, the poverty and the hardship of their situation is almost palpable and that's thanks to Hendricks' performance. The rest of the cast is good but Christina Hendricks and Corey Stoll stand out and elevate the film.
So to me Dark Places really depicts how prejudices, despair, and a bunch of white lies can snow ball and change people's lives forever. It's definitely not thriller of the year but the film is not boring. @wornoutspines
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's been a while since I've seen such a good old-fashioned whodunit on the big screen; the genre seems to be somewhat of a forgotten art in modern cinema. Compared to "Gone Girl", "Dark Places" is less flashy, less psychologically twisted, more down-to-earth, more plot-driven. It kept me wondering who-done-it until the end, and the solution is clever and unpredictable (let's just say there is a thin line between innocence and guilt in this movie). The narrative moves very smoothly and methodically between the present and the past, helped by a solid cast, well-selected in terms of the younger and the older actors who are called upon to play the same character (especially in the case of Chloë Grace Moretz and Andrea Roth). Recommended for fans of the genre. *** out of 4.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The best thing about this movie about the investigation into a decades
old murder of a mother and 2 daughters is that things make sense and
come together. I have been so used to movie mysteries that are
irritating, illogical or unresolved. It was so refreshing that
everything is explained in a plausible way and there were no red
On top of that you have some fine performances by some of the finest actresses out there. Christina Hendricks is touching and believable as a beleaguered mom with so many problems: financial, nasty ex, children. Simply outstanding. She was the best actress on 'Mad Men' and I hope she gets many more movie roles. Chloe Grace Moretz shows she can play a bad girl just as well as her sweet roles and action roles. Charlize is totally watchable and sympathetic a central figure as the surviving daughter if just a tad too beautiful even when trying to disguise her beauty beneath the baseball cap. The men are supporting but pivotal. Nicholas Hoult and Corey Stoll are well cast.
I found Gone Girl's story a bit simplistic and vulgar. Dark Places is more original, better constructed and the characters are more multi faceted and sympathetic. The tension is more palpable. It also shows terrible human behavior and selflessness in the characters that is quite unexpected.
Ignore any bad reviews and watch this one. It's a fine movie.
Ungodly and sinister, Gillian Flynn's Dark Places is just as devilish
as you hope.
Again Gillian Flynn takes inspiration from the headlines, this time Dark Places sheds unsettling and ominous light on the famed mass murders that capture society's attention.
When Libby Day (Charlize Theron) was just seven years old, she was the lone survivor and he family was viciously murdered in what the media claimed was a satanic occult sacrifice at the desolate farmhouse in Kansas. Her brother Ben, just fifteen at the time, was found to be guilty. Twenty-five years later, in desperate need of cash and with no way to get it except capitalize and exploit her seedy past, she allows an organization obsessed with real life murders investigate the case with her help, as they hope to exonerate Ben. As she investigates her past, she opens old wounds and uncovers things about her life she had long since buried deep in her soul.
Not being able to speak of the novel, the Dark Places as a film does a great job of leading you on myriad paths of misdirection. The audience desperately following leads and evidence to discover the truth of what happened that fateful night in the when a family was brutally murdered, leaving two surviving siblings left standing when the carnage stopped. The multi-layered story is well paced and realistically utilizes real life murders and victims for a believable interpretation of a crime.
Gillian Flynn and her fellow screenwriter of the adaptation, Gilles Paquet-Brenner, do a marvelous job of refusing to resort to lazy exposition, showing rather than telling. The result is an engaging mystery that garners your full attention in the hopes you might be able to deduce the truth of the heinously bloody murders. Paquet-Brenner does double duty in directing the film, and translates the subject matter with cohesively gritty and complementary cinematography.
It seems as though fans of the novel were a bit disappointed in the casting for this film, that Theron does not match the physicality of Flynn's written description. Not knowing this fact, Charlize Theron is flawless as the tortured lead Libby. Her Libby and the medley of supporting characters are gripping and match the brutal content of the film.
Dark Places is a satisfying mystery that tells of savage desperation and sadistic cold-hearted murder. Given the weak and bland thrillers of recent years that shy away from the truly horrifying callous of human nature, fans of the genre should be pleased.
7.5/10 Please check our website for full reviews of all the recent releases.
"The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty -
we all have it."
I have a soft spot for mystery films where the audience is kept in suspense and has to try to figure out who committed the crime. Dark Places is such a film. What drew me to this film however wasn't the genre nor the fact that Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult were going to be in this movie together again after their success in Fury Road, but that the screenplay was adapted from Gillian Flynn's novel of the same name. Gone Girl was one of my favorite films of 2014 and I loved Fincher's direction in that film, but above all I thought the screenplay was the best that year. Dark Places was written prior to Gone Girl, and there aren't as many twists here, but the story still manages to captivate you and leave you in suspense. Dark Places was directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner (Sarah's Key) and he also adapted the screenplay. The film is flawed and the voice over narration doesn't work at all, but the story is what kept me interested along with the strong cast. The cinematography is dark and it helps build the overall atmosphere of the movie as the story jumps back and forth from past (a day in 1985 when a horrible crime was committed) to present. The ending was a bit of a letdown, but I enjoyed the fact that I was continuously guessing who the murderer might be up to the final act.
Libby Day (Charlize Theron) was only seven when her mother and two sisters were brutally murdered in their Kansas farmhouse. She managed to escape and all signs seemed to indicate that her brother Ben (Tye Sheridan) was the murderer. She even testified in court that her brother was responsible, and now 25 years later she continues to be haunted by her past. She's lived off the life insurance money and donations that many caring people have donated to her, but that money is all gone now and her depression hasn't allowed her to move on with her life. When a young man named Lyle (Nicholas Hoult) offers her some money to come visit their club, "The Kill Club" she decides to go. They explain to Libby that they are a group of amateur investigators who like to explore unsolved cases. They are convinced her brother is innocent and they offer her more money to begin investigating what happened that tragic night. It's not easy for Libby to revisit these dark memories of her past which have haunted her, but she begins by visiting her brother in prison (now played by Corey Stoll). He reminds her of some events that took place during that time and as she begins to investigate we are introduced to several flashbacks of what actually happened. Libby's mother is played by Christina Hendricks, her father by Sean Bridgers, while Chloe Grace Moretz plays Ben's love interest during the flashback scenes.
This is a strong cast for a film directed by a relatively unknown director, but considering Gone Girl was such a success I'm sure they were all excited about being a part of this film. Tye Sheridan and Chloe Grace Moretz are two of my favorite young teen actors working today. Unfortunately they don't get much to do with their characters here. The stand out for me was Christina Hendricks who delivers a solid performance as this single mother of four who is trying her best to keep up float. Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult are also solid, but their performance doesn't even come close to what they did in Fury Road. The flashback scenes were the highlight of the movie for me, and I didn't care too much for the present investigation so that might be a reason why I wasn't blown away by either of Theron or Hoult's performances. Dark Places isn't as tightly constructed as Gone Girl and the characters aren't as interesting, but the mystery still had me engaged during most of the film's running time. In a better director's hand this film could've been great, but it still managed to be slightly entertaining.
This is the first time ever that I'm able to write in a review that
I read the book before I watched the film! I'm an avid movie fanatic
and not much of a book reader, but for some reason I read both Gillian
Flynn novels (this one as well as "Gone Girl") before they were turned
into Hollywood movies with an all-star cast. "Dark Places" is clearly
not as successful as "Gone Girl", because the release got pushed back a
couple of times and this one isn't likely to ever end up in the IMDb
top 250. Now, I always disliked that typical and clichéd statement:
"the book is much better than the film", but I must admit that there's
truth in it
Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner's screenplay adaptation is
very loyal to Flynn's novel, and thus the basic subject matter is tense
and unsettling, but for some inexplicable reason the book is compelling
whereas the film is rather tedious
"Dark Places" tells the story of
Libby Day. At the tender age of 7, Libby witnessed how her mother and
two sisters were brutally slain in their Kansas farm at night, and she
confirmed to the authorities that her 15-year-old brother Ben was the
culprit. 28 years later, Libby understandably grew up to become an
angry, secluded and insecure woman. Driven by financial issues, Libby
accepts the peculiar Lyle's offer to attend a meeting of the Kill Club.
This bizarre collective exists of people who're investigating infamous
(and unsolved) murder cases, and they are convinced that Ben Day is
innocent. Reluctant at first, Libby begins to unravel the mystery of
what exactly happened on the awful night that ruined her life. The
search confronts her with her imprisoned brother and her estranged
father, but also brings new secrets to the surface about her mother
Patty and her brother's long lost high- school girlfriend Diondra.
It's very strange and difficult to describe, but every new plot twist or revelation that was captivating in the book comes across as implausible in the film. Especially the character of the mother, Patty Day, was much more powerful in the novel. Her hopelessness and desperation isn't properly transferred to the screen and therefore a couple of essential twists near the end become downright unbelievable. Obviously this isn't the fault of the screenplay, because a book lends itself much better to describe emotions and mental states of mind in great detail. This is also the main reason why the protagonist character Libby never truly becomes the intriguing character she deserves to be. "Dark Places" definitely also suffers from a shortage of action, especially during the first hour, and the great potential of the "Kill Club" isn't elaborated properly enough (although that also wasn't the case in the book). Paquet-Brenner does, however, marvelously captivate the grim and depressing atmosphere of the Midwestern American slums and insolvent family farms. The performances are more than adequate as well, with particularly strong roles for Charlize Theron and Nicolas Hoult. Just a week ago, I also saw them act together in "Mad Max: Fury Road" but this is quite a different type of film. Christina Hendricks is amazing as the poor and pitiable single mother and I was also very surprised to see a strong role for Chloë Grace Moretz. "Dark Places" is a great book to read (personally I even preferred it over "Gone Girl) and the film is also definitely worth checking out, but I only recommend either reading the book or watching the film. Otherwise you're guaranteed to stumble upon the flaws more easily.
Let's just get the obvious out of the way: The book was better. Much
better. Even so, this is a fantastic movie.
The direction is solid, the score is good, and the cinematography is moody and, at times, downright beautiful. Technically, it's a solid film all around, but what really elevates Dark Places to greatness is the cast. The acting here: It was just fantastic fantastic fantastic. And that's the most important thing here. Gillian Flynn has a talent for writing vivid, real, and disturbed characters that are actually hard to part with once you read the last pages of her books. While the cast here may not embody the physical description of her characters, it doesn't really matter, because they all give absolutely stellar performances that feel completely true to the people in Flynn's book. See this for the acting alone.
But then there is the mystery aspect of it, too. The twist here is about as shocking as Gone Girl's, except it is not in the middle of the movie, and it throws a much more emotional gut-punch. If you are an empathetic person, you may feel quite depressed after this one, but hopeful, too. This is how mysteries are meant to make people feel.
In short, this is just absolutely one of the best movies of the year. See it.
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