From 2015, "Dark Places" stars Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, and Corey Stoll in an adaptation of a novel by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl).
Theron is Libby Day, one of two living survivors of the mass murder of her family in 1985 in Kansas. Where else - it's where the murders in In Cold Blood took place. The other survivor is her brother Ben (Stoll), a teen at the time, who has been in prison for the last 25 years for the murders, due to what she told the police.
Libby is a cold, closed-off human being, understandably, given what she went through as a child; she cashed in on the murders and never worked. As a child people sent her money, and she also wrote a book -- well, her name was on it and she was paid, but she states that she never even read it. Now that she's an adult, she has $412 left and has never had a job. So when she's approached by a crime club called the Kill Club, which discusses and works on famous murder cases, she takes their money to make an appearance.
Though she insists her brother is guilty, Libby takes more money to actually investigate for the club's president (Hoult). It has to be done right away because storage problems in the state building mean that cases more than ten years old will be destroyed in a few weeks.
Flashbacks recreate the circumstances surrounding the murders, showing her mother (Hendricks) trying to hold onto their farm despite poverty, her alcoholic husband who shows up for money, Ben being accused of child molestation and of practicing Satanism, and Ben's relationship with Diondra (Chloe Grace Moretz), who seems to be the town bad girl.
Slowly Libby is able to put the pieces together and learns the stunning truth.
I don't understand the vilification of this movie - what has it ever done to anyone? A 26% fresh on rottentomatoes.com. Was it Hate Charlize Day or what? This is a terrific, suspenseful film that will keep you guessing right to the end.
Theron gives a frosty performance, right on for this isolated, unfriendly woman who has cut herself off from the world and people. She wears a baseball cap throughout most of the film; we don't really get to see her true beauty unless it's off. There is a book called "Flesh and Fantasy" which has a chapter on How to Win an Oscar. One way is for a beautiful movie star to make herself look bad, as Theron did in Monster. She prefers to make films that are not about her gorgeous looks, and this was one.
Christina Hendricks does a great job as Libby's downtrodden mother - she looks and acts defeated - a far cry from being one of the glamorous stars of "Mad Men."
For fans of this genre, and I gather for people who haven't read the book, I think this is a very well done film that deserves to be seen as a rental or on Amazon streaming.
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