Dark Places (2015) – Review

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Review: I always hoped that in aftermath of Gone Girl’s critical and financial triumph, there would be no Gillian Flynn’s adaptations for some years to go; although, the odds are strong that adaptation would be on the run. Aside of fear of bias and immediate comparison to David Fincher’s highest grossing movie, I had my hope ruined – French director Gilles Paquet-Brenner went hastily on bringing Flynn’s second book, Dark Places, to big screen with exceptional star-studded casts.

I had my hope ruined as unconvincing as Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult) convinces Libby Day (Charlize Theron) – a sole survivor of Kansas Prairie Massacre, in which her family was put into perish and her brother – to investigate whether or not Libby’s brother, Ben (Tye Sheridan & Corey Stoll, respectively) the allegedly murderer. And, as slow as the two go into dark places of Libby’s past before completely ruined as ‘meh’ as the twist finally revealed. 

While Gone Girl’s double-POV breakthrough in story-telling was translated perfectly into screen by Flynn and Fincher – making the unfilmable filmable; Dark Places gets stuck in the ‘unfilmable’ state – as if Paquet-Brenner does not find any proper way to juxtapose the book’s glorified multi-timeline and multi-POV into screen equivalence.

It’s simple to label it ‘too convoluted’ with characters and sub-conflicts without having able to present each of them in a compact, understandable, holistic movie. For the record, Dark Places is only 119 minutes compared to Gone Girl, 149 minutes; however, it feels like Dark Places is a longer movie with tiring plot, which should have been broken down into several episodes.

Fortunately, Charlize Theron’s able to deliver sympathetic performance as self-loathing grown-up who never kills her inner guilt-stricken child. Meanwhile, other stars sink into the dark places as Chloe Grace-Moretz flops, Christina Hendricks droops, Nick Hoult and Tye Sheridan flat out. My personal favorite is Corey Stoll, who deliver the same warmth as Ben Day in the original book.

Dark Places has a promising premise from a very compelling book, but ends up making a cinematic lesson in terms of adapting best-selling books.

Dark Places (2015)

Drama, Thriller, Mystery Written & Directed by: Gilles Paquet-Brenner based on novel by Gillian Flynn Starred by: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina HendricksCorey StollTye SheridanChloë Grace Moretz Runtime: 119 mins Rated R


Saya sendiri selalu berharap pasca-Gone Girl yang sukses secara finansial sekaligus dipuja para kritik, tak akan ada buku Gillian Flynn lagi yang diadaptasi sampai beberapa tahun. Meskipun begitu, chance-nya sangat besar kalau adaptasi sejenis langsung bermunculan. Alih-alih karena ketakutan saya akan bias serta perbandingan dengan Gone Girl, harapan saya hancur justru karena Gilles Paquet-Brenner tidak bisa menahan diri dalam mengadaptasi buku kedua Flynn, Dark Places, dengan deretan bintang dalam cast-nya.

Harapan itu hancur dengan tidak meyakinkan, seperti Lyle Wirth (Nick Hoult) mencoba meyakinkan Libby Day (Charlize Theron)—satu-satunya penyintas Kansas Prairie Massacre, di mana seluruh keluarganya dihabisi dan abangnya—untuk membuktikan bersalah atau tidaknya abang Libby, Ben (Tye Sheridan & Corey Stoll bergantian), yang dijadikan tersangka.

Harapan hancur selambat keduanya menyelami sisi gelap masa lalu Libby sebelum harapan itu hancur luluh ketika twist yang harusnya gripping menjadi sangat ‘meh’.

Buku-buku Flynn selalu punya gaya naratif yang sulit diterjemahkan ke dalam film (kecuali Sharp Objects, mungkin). Gone Girl punya dua sisi POV yang untungnya berhasil diterjemahkan ke dalam layar oleh Flynn dan Fincher—menjadikan yang tidak bisa difilmkan menjadi bisa difilmkan. Masalahnya, Dark Places seolah terus tertahan di bagian ‘tidak bisa difilmkan.’ Paquet-Brenner tidak mampu menerjemahkan beberapa lini masa dari bukunya serta meng-adjustnya dengan banyak POV (Dalam bukunya, Dark Places dinarasikan oleh Libby, kecuali saat flashback yang secara bergantian dinarasikan melalui POV Ben, Mrs. Day, dan beberapa karakter lain).

Sederhananya, Dark Places menumpuk terlalu banyak karakter dan subplot tanpa bisa mempresentasikannya dengan compac, mudah dimengerti serta holistik. FYI, durasi Dark Places hanya 119 menit, 30 menit lebih pendek daripada Gone Girl. Namun ketika menontonnya, Dark Places terasa seperti film yang sangat panjang—bahkan perlu dipecah dalam beberapa episode untuk bisa merunut satu per satu jalinan konfliknya.

Untungnya, Theron masih bisa tampil simpatis menampilkan Libby lengkap dengan self-loathe-nya. Sementara itu, bintang lain justru tenggelam ke dalam ‘dark places’nya masing-masing: Chloe Grace-Moretz flop, Christina Hendricks adem-adem saja, Nick Hoult dan Tye Sheridan malah kelewat datar. Meskipun begitu, Corey Stoll berhasil menampilkan tokoh Ben dewasa sesuai dengan karakternya di novel.

Dark Places memiliki premis yang luar biasa yang diadaptasi langsung dari buku yang sama luar biasanya, namun tidak berhasil mengeluarkan energi terdalamnya dan malah berakhir sebagai pelajaran bagi filmmaker lain untuk tidak latah.

Dark Places movie review in this blog is written by Paskalis Damar. Review film Dark Places ini diterjemahkan ke dalam Bahasa Indonesia oleh Paskalis Damar.

4 responses

  1. Crickey, I hadn’t even heard of Dark Places till I read your review! Saddened to hear it was disappointing however 🙁
    – Allie

    1. Like I wrote previously, it just wasn’t patient to wait until Gone Girl’s charm vanishes.

  2. I actually enjoyed this quite a bit, and I thought it was a very close adaption to the book. I had a few problems with the cast. Theron, though she’s good is really nothing like Libby in the book, and Chloe Grace Moretz is terrible as always, but other than those gripes. I thought they did a good job. It’s a shame this film got zero marketing in the states though. I’m shocked my theater actually got it.

    1. For me, it’s just untranslatable—the flashback POV et al. I think Theron’s persona here is completely made for the movie, ya? But that’s great if you liked it 🙂

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