Dark Places is a traumatic look at what happens when young people make decisions that dramatically affect the world around them for years to come. Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, Dark Places stars Charlize Theron in what can only be described as a decades long nightmare. Libby Day (Theron) is alone with no money or job and burdened with the death of her family when she was young. Apart from her brother, who is in jail for the murder of their family, Libby is the only survivor. She is a compulsive hoarder and collects trinkets that remind her of her family.
When Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult) sends her a letter offering to pay her to visit his club, the Killer Club, where people discuss and role play famous murders and unsolved cases. When the meeting doesn’t go down very well, Lyle offers to pay Libby to look into the death of family and find the truth. She accepts, desperate for the money.
Libby is forced to uncover the truth, trying to distinguish between her memories and what truly happened. She often has trouble, mostly because she has blocked out almost every memory, good or bad, of her family. But with the help of Lyle, and even visiting her brother for the first time, Libby uncovers decades old secrets, and a web of lies spun to convict the wrong person.
Dark Places actually kept me guessing right up to the end. I knew that Libby’s brother Ben (Corey Stoll) couldn’t be the killer, but I couldn’t work out who was. Usually when the Easter eggs are planted, you can spot the ending from a mile way, whether it be revealing too much in flash backs or letting the script tell a story rather than show it. Dark Places did neither.
Dark Places is full of children who made decisions because they were manipulated into doing it or they did it of their own free will. Libby made the decision to send her brother to prison, even though she’d not actually seen him murder their family, Ben went to prison knowing he didn’t do anything but confessed anyway to seem cool, and Lyle admits to being so concerned with Libby’s case because he himself had been in a similar position when he started the fires that killed many people and destroyed homes in California years before. The whole film feels like a cautionary tale, trying to explore how life changes, and who you affect when you make decisions you don’t completely understand.
Charlize Theron gives a stellar performance, really nailing the self obsessed and painfully broken Libby on the head. You can see the transformation she has from the moment we see her adult self, to the last scene of the film. And Christina Hendricks, who plays Libby’s mother, is outstanding in role as a mother in shock, trying to save her children from the crippling debt they are in.
Dark Places really is all about the dark places you can end up when you do things you don’t necessarily understand. The film is a interesting watch with many layers of doubt and deception that keep you on the edge of your seat till the end.