It is no secret that Gillian Flynn is one of my favourite authors of all time. She is the queen of all things dark, twisted and suspenseful. All three of her novels, Sharp Objects, Dark Places and the most famous of them all, Gone Girl, are easily on the list of my favourite novels of all time. Even her recent short story The Grownup had me on the edge of my seat.
Back when Gone Girl was first announced as an upcoming film I could not have been more excited! It gave me the opportunity to experience the story for a second time while already knowing the outcome. This allows you to pick up on little hints and clues and foreshadowing that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Although I was super excited that Gone Girl was being adapted into a film, my excitement when Dark Places was announced as a film adaptation was ten times more intense. Dark Places is my favourite of all Gillian Flynn’s current novels and I would give anything to see it as a film. Once the film was finally released, I was a little upset considering the film didn’t get the best of reviews which dropped my expectations down a bit. I decided I still wanted to give it a chance and I was recently finally able to sit down and watch it.
Dark Places tells the story of Libby Day, the only survivor of her family’s brutal massacre that her older brother committed back in 1985. Fast forward 28 years later. A group that calls themselves “The Kill Club” contacts Libby as they try to convince her that maybe her brother could be innocent. This story is filled with twists and turns with an almost impossible to predict outcome.
In terms of a book to film adaptation, the film was basically identical to the novel. All of the important details were the same which I was actually pretty shocked and happy about. Obviously, as is the case with any adaptation, some details were lost, but everything that mattered and that was important was kept.
One of my favourite aspects of the novel were the different character perspectives within time jumps. The book alternates in points of view between Libby’s mother Patty and her brother Ben in the year 1985 as well as Libby’s point of view during the current present day. The book seamlessly flows from one perspective to the next and was clearly well thought out and organized. Because this was one of my favourite things about the novel, I regret to say that it lost its spark within the film. I remember anxiously reading each chapter of the novel, eager to reach the next character perspective, but the film just kind of threw them in here and there. I wish that there was more of an anticipation build.
Am I the only one who noticed the strange way of filming? The quick zooming in on characters faces felt almost cheesy and outdated. The filming style and cinematography just wasn’t there for me. My expectations may have been set high after watching what David Fincher had done with Gone Girl. I know I shouldn’t compare, but something was just missing for me in terms of camera work and cinematography throughout Dark Places.
One thing this film does contain is an amazing cast. Although my initial thoughts when I heard Charlize Theron would be portraying Libby Day were a little mixed, I knew that she was an amazing actress and would most likely do the character justice. Theron doesn’t fit the character description of Libby Day that was presented in the books, but I decided not to let that bother me so much. However, I once again regret to say, I didn’t particularly like her acting throughout this film. I’m not sure if it had something to do with the writing or the way her character was presented, but I really just didn’t enjoy her performance. She wasn’t a convincing Libby for me unfortunately. The same goes for Chloe Grace Moretz. She is usually a pretty phenomenal actress, especially for her age, but once again, I really didn’t enjoy her portrayal of the twisted Diondra. For the most part, the acting throughout the film was mostly bland with a few decent performances by Corey Stoll and Tye Sheridan, who I believe has a bright future ahead of him.
I really really wanted to enjoy this film, especially considering how much I enjoyed the novel. I remember getting to the end of the book and thinking, “wait. what?!” The twists and turns are unpredictable and when they hit you they’re shocking. Unfortunately when the twist is revealed in the film it happens almost too abruptly and the audience doesn’t really have the chance to take it all in. There was almost no build up which completely ruined the entire outcome and purpose of the story.
Although Dark Places still remains to be my favourite Gillian Flynn novel, Gone Girl was definitely the better film adaptation.