Dark Places @ Fantasia 2015

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Dark Places is the latest Hollywood adaptation of a Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) novel. The film explores the life of Libby Day (Charlize Theron), who for twenty five years always assumed her brother Ben (Corey Stoll) murdered her mother and sisters. Now a mysterious club headed up by charming entrepreneur Lyle (Nicholas Hoult) wants to try and prove to her that may not be the case.

Gone Girl went on to be a critical darling and Academy Awards nominee. Dark Places unfortunately isn’t likely to receive the same amount of praise and attention. It isn’t a bad movie, it’s just not a particularly ground breaking one.

There are several reasons for this. The most obvious is the lack of director David Fincher and cinematographer Jeff Cronenwenth. While Fincher has become a master at Hollywood noir cinema, French director Gilles Paquet-Brenner doesn’t display the same kind of confidence. That being said, according to IMDB, Dark Places appears to be his first big-budget Hollywood feature.

What Dark Places certainly isn’t lacking in is star power. With Charlize Theron, Christina Hendricks, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicholas Hoult and Corey Stoll, the film is packed with some of the best A-list talent Hollywood has to offer.

In the 1985 section of the film, Christina Hendricks gives a strong performance as a mother at the end of her rope. Unfortunately sometimes it’s hard to stay focused on Hendricks’s performance because she wears some of the ugliest outfits ever put on camera. Can Hendricks and costume designer Janie Bryant please stay a team forever?

As the lead role of the film, sometimes it felt like Theron, like her character, was hanging around for the paycheck. Plenty of other films have showcased Theron’s talents as an actress, but Libby Day will not go down as one of the great characters of her career. Theron does little in this film except act pissed off.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Hoult does his best with a pretty thankless role. The character of Lyle has a lot of potential to be interesting, but unfortunately the script never lets him get there. Stoll finds himself in a similar situation as prison inmate Ben. While Dark Places is unlikely to win any awards, but hopefully it can show producers that Hendricks, Hoult and Stoll all deserve bigger, meatier leading roles in future Hollywood productions.

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