Movie Review: “Dark Places”

Dark Places” is the movie adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name and stars Charlize Theron. You may remember Flynn as the author of “Gone Girl”, which was also made into a movie starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike (who received an Oscar nomination for her performance).

In “Dark Places”, Theron plays the current day, adult version of the main character Libby Day, whose family was murdered in a small Kansas town when she was eight years old. The tragic event became national news and was highly publicized because of the nature of the crime and the fact that Libby’s older brother Ben was found guilty of committing the murders, largely based on the coaxed testimony of eight-year-old Libby who stated she saw Ben commit the crimes.

Years later, with Libby hard up for cash, she accepts an invitation from Lyle Wirth to attend a meeting of The Kill Club, a group of individuals obsessed with true crime stories. Lyle, an active member of the group fixated with the murders involving Libby’s family, pays Libby to come and talk to the group and answer questions. Needless to say, the members of the group are not convinced that Libby’s older brother Ben is the killer and are eager to talk to Libby to help fill in, what they believe are, holes in the case. Libby though is not buying the conspiracies thrown at her and sticks to her original story that Ben committed the murders. However, Libby is still broke and Lyle is willing to pay her even more to reach out to long-lost family members. Libby takes the money and the story takes off.

I enjoyed the movie and was glad to see the movie do its best to stay true to the book. The problem though with “Dark Places” the Movie had little to do with the Movie itself.

  1. The book was SO good. The detail and arrangement of the book, with its flashbacks intertwining so well with current events, made it impossible for a movie to represent. After the first twenty minutes of the movie it was already on the downhill slope of the story. The movie never had a chance to build up because it was two hours long…it needed about 15 hours.
  2. “Gone Girl”. “Gone Girl” was such a good movie that the expectations were absolutely unattainable with this movie. The twists and turns hit you when you weren’t expecting them so you were primed and ready when watching “Dark Places”.
  3. Libby Day was played by Charlize Theron. Now don’t get me wrong, Charlize Theron is a great actress and has the physique and beauty of a model. However, Libby Day was a short, strange, odd, small, troubled woman. Charlize did the best she could but it was never believable if you had read the book. Libby Day is an amazing character and Charlize Theron is an amazing actress, but those two things are not always synonymous.

Overall, it was a good movie but it was hard not feeling somewhat let down. If you’re thinking of watching this movie, and it is worth watching, read the book first. One, the book is just an awesome story and well written; one of my favorites. Two, I think you’d have a hard time following the movie if you didn’t have the base of the story already in your mind. At least make sure that if you haven’t read the book you watch the movie with someone who has.