Dark Places (2015)

DailyView: Day 116, Movie 189

This is the last day of the Showtime channel that I got real cheap on Prime Day a couple of months ago and I figured that watching one more movie on the channel would be a good choice. Going through the list, I found the 2015 film starring Charlize Theron called Dark Places.

Libby Day (Charlize Theron) was the sole survivor of a massacre at her family’s home when she was 8 years old. Her testimony helped to convict her brother Ben (played as a youth by Tye Sheridan and later as an adult by Corey Stoll) for the murder.

Years later, Libby was approached by Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult), a member of a club that investigates true crime cases, who believed Ben was innocent of the murders and wanted Libby to help them prove it. Of course, this opened several old wounds for Libby as she recounted the night her mother (Christina Hendricks) and two sisters died.

This one was a mixed bag of a movie. There were several bits that I really liked, and several bits that bother me. Starting with what I liked, Charlize Theron is great. I believed her as a traumatized adult who had gone through hell as a child and just wanted to be left alone. She had capitalized on the infamy of the case, which did not make her look like a good person, but she was clearly still being tortured by the memories of that night. Sterling Jerins, who played young Libby, was just a solid in the flashback scenes of Libby’s childhood.

I enjoyed the mystery of what exactly happened on the night in question, as Ben’s guilt had been questioned by Lyle and his Kill Club and their obsession with the case (however, the one woman in the club, Magda, played by Lori Cordova was a horribly cruel person and I did not like her immediately). Again, Theron is excellent here as she is just never quite sure what she remembered from that night.

Chloe Grace Moretz played Ben’s girlfriend in the flashbacks and she is a bit of a contradiction. I’m not sure how I am expected to feel about this character. Moretz is always a solid actor and she does a good job here too. I just wish her character was better written.

However, the way the movie revealed the story was very odd. It jumped around from point of view throughout the plot, sometimes showing us memories from Libby, sometimes showing us times when Libby was nowhere to be seen. Libby did a voice over during some of it, but they revealed scenes of flashbacks that Libby could not have known. The POV was so confused and inconsistent that it really messed with the story, which could have been told in a much more useful manner.

This movie was based on Gillian Flynn’s 2009 novel of the same name and it feels as if some of the important details were left out. At times the movie felt rushed, and could have allowed more time for scenes to breathe.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and the performances more than I disliked the structure of the filmmaking. I had seen the low Rotten Tomatoes score on this before I had started it (23%) so my expectations were low, which always seems to help when watching a movie. This was passable for me.

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