As what you would expect from a former writer of Entertainment Weekly, Gillian Flynn makes another satirical jab at our twisted fascination with tragedy turned tabloid fodder in Dark Places.
Cinematography is able to evoke a moody atmosphere through shadow filtered visuals that match Libby’s scowl.
Dark Places tackles the premise head-on with Charlize Theron. She’s convincing as the standoffish yet emotionally scarred Libby Day. Theron is able to convey a range of emotions – vulnerability, subdued anger, detachment – with little dialogue.
Unfortunately, the story and its characters aren’t taken much further as Gilles Paquet-Brenner preferred to keep it safe.
Dark Places doesn’t take Libby’s twisted celebrity status and her character to any truly dark places, even when the stage is nicely set-up by the source material.
In the book, Libby milked her tragedy for all its worth, enabling her to capitalize on her story while preventing her to move on. She is a survivor of the month in a Kill Club composed of people who live vicariously through the tragedy of others. She does her own detective work for a personal investigation that revolves around the classic small-town story – an image of a quiet rural town whose real threats are as ordinary as its landscape.
The movie is a bland potboiler where red herrings are replaced by improbable detours. We’re introduced to a number of forgettable stock characters. Vague flashbacks become revealing recollections to serve the narrative. There’s a nifty twist here thanks to the source material, but you’d have to sit through an uneventful plot.
If David Fincher had taken the director’s seat again, I’d have no doubt we’d get something far better. Unfortunately, Paquet-Brenner dilutes the source material into a mediocre thriller.
Dark Places keep it safe, resulting in a watered-down adaptation with an uneventful plot and shallow characters.