Page to Screen: Dark Places

Dark Places posterWednesday I reviewed Gillian Flynn’s novel Dark Places. Today’s review is for the movie adaptation of Dark Places which was released a couple of months ago. Charlize Theron plays Libby Day, the woman whose testimony as a young girl was instrumental in her brother being convicted of the murder of their mother and two sisters. Like in the book, Libby has been numb since the murders, living her life in an emotionless haze. Theron had the right idea in her performance as Libby but I think she took it a little too far. Her performance seemed more wooden than numb. And a note to the costumer about the trucker’s hat that Libby wears throughout the movie: That hat looked brand new! It needed to be roughed up to look worn out and aged. It was really distracting to me that someone who is not only poor but doesn’t care about her appearance at all was wearing a brand new hat. And a note to the make-up artist: It was clear that Charlize had on makeup. Christina Hendricks, who played Libby’s mother in flashbacks, clearly either didn’t have any make up on or the makeup artist did a much better job of making her look like she didn’t have any on. I thought Charlize didn’t look like Libby at all. Libby is depressed and apathetic– she should have looked more slovenly. Charlize wasn’t afraid to get all uglied up in Monster so I don’t know why she didn’t do it in this movie. It bugged me for the whole movie!

The plot followed the book pretty closely and included as much detail as it could in a two-hour movie. I would have liked to have seen most of the characters developed more, especially Ben and Diondra. I couldn’t help but wonder what the screenplay would have been like if Flynn adapted it herself since she did such a fabulous job adapting Gone Girl.

I was surprised how many big names were in this movie since it’s a little independent film. Christina Hendricks played Libby’s mom, Corey Stoll (Peter from House of Cards) was Ben, Chloë Grace Moretz (I love her!) was young Diondra and Drea de Matteo was Krissi.

Here’s an interesting article I posted on this blog’s Facebook page a few weeks ago about why the movie of Dark Places flew completely under the radar, especially compared to the madness that surrounded Gone Girl. The poor movie actually started filming BEFORE Gone Girl did and was supposed to be a little independent film. It had no aspirations to be as popular as Gone Girl because Gone Girl didn’t exist. It also faced a lot of production problems. Reading the article made me feel sorry for the poor director of Dark Places.

My husband and I went into watching this movie with horrible expectations because the movie did not get great reviews. Of course, having read the book, I felt compelled to watch it. I didn’t think it was THAT bad, probably due to my low expectations. I thought it was on par with a Lifetime movie thriller, like Mother May I Sleep with Danger starring Tory Spelling. My husband, who hasn’t read the book, thought it was pretty good with a few plot holes. Most of them are due to a poor adaptation but after he pointed them out, I realized some of them were originally in the book.

This is a moderately enjoyable movie but just like with the novel, don’t go in expecting it to be Gone Girl.

  • Lisa Wilson

    My mom and I both read Dark Places so we went to see the movie. I agree, there were some details missing from the movie that were in the book but it would have been impossible to include all the details. I want expecting much and I’m glad I read the book.

    What did you think of Sharp Objects?

    • ChaosIsAFriend

      The book Sharp Objects? I really liked it but it’s been a long time since I’ve read it so I don’t remember much about it. Have you read it?

  • Lisa Wilson

    Yes, I read it and I think I liked it better than Dark Places. Sharp Objects was about the reporter from Chicago who went back to MO to cover a story about the murder of two teenage girls. I thought it was very good.

    In Dark Places, I didn’t like the how mom died, didn’t care for that plot line.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    This sounds like a movie that’s best watched at home.

    • Rachel

      Definitely. We streamed it off of Amazon.

    • ChaosIsAFriend

      Definitely. We streamed it off of Amazon.

  • S.G. Wright

    It sounds not bad for a rental. I’d get it. Though perhaps I should read the book first.