Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Corey Stoll, Christina Hendricks, Tye Sheridan, Chloe Grace Moretz, Andrea Roth
Directed By: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Directed poorly, the latest adaptation of the less popular Gillian Flynn novel could have been so much better. I think it casts a wide net, forgets about the net, and gives up on it. Then it went to the supermarket, bought some fish, went home and had Chef Boyardee instead. The film opens with Charlize Theron sharing her story, and occasionally we’re reminded that this is all in the past as she narrates. The film doesn’t quite end with her wrapping up that story with the same person, and it goes so long sometimes in between narration that you forget the film is actually being narrated. Sometimes, it seems as though the film is being told in the present… as Libby (Theron) works on her case with Lyle (Hoult) and his club. Then there are flashbacks. Lots of flashbacks.
Libby starts off as a very reluctant person and then suddenly she’s investigating her own case. So, lots of character development in just a few short moments. I also felt the soundtrack was distracting in some parts. There’s a decent twist within this story, and the supporting cast (Stoll, Hendricks, Sheridan, and Moretz) do a good job. Theron sleepwalks through most of the movie, and Hoult is criminally underused.
I’ll admit, the ending was a little twisty, but oddly set up. I can’t help but feel let down by what should have been a much better film. Flynn’s Gone Girl was terrific. Theron is a great actress. I blame Paquet-Brenner, who was both writer and director. Often when you have the writer/director combo, any problems with the writing isn’t noticed by the director and fixed. That’s definitely what happened here. I think that’s why Dark Places is getting barely released into theatres. Charlize Theron is so hot right now, and Gillian Flynn after Gone Girl, there had to be a reason this film was set up to fail. It’s not very good.
FINAL GRADE: C-