Friday 26 June 2015

Dark Places ... 'Light' on substance

DARK Places sees Charlize Theron playing a True Detective. She goes from being an indifferent and  blase pretty blonde to an inquisitive pretty blonde who pokes her nose into many places.
   There really isn't much to say about this film other than it's predictable and boring. And I'll tell you in a moment why Oscar-winner Theron should not have played this role.

   Libby Day (Theron) is down on her luck. She made headlines 28 years ago as an 8 year old who testified that her brother Ben (Tye Sheridan) killed their mother and two sisters in their house in cold blood.
  She has been living off the proceeds of her book on the murder and generosity of well-wishers, who are inclined to mail cheques to her.
    You can tell right off that she's showing the strain of carrying that unbearable burden because her complexion is smooth and she looks drop-dead gorgeous. Libby is supposed to be weighed down because she's carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders but as portrayed as Theron, she hardly inspires sympathy in viewers.
  I expected an emaciated 35-year-old character with sunken eyes, protruding rib cage, dishevelled hair and smeared mascara. Instead, we get a former model traipsing through the film.
   A knight in shining armour arrives in the form of Lyle (Nicholas Hoult. This is the second film they've appeared together in such a short span of time; the first is Mad Max). He's a member of the Kill Club, which attracts weirdos trying to solve murders.  He offers her money to attend a meeting, and she bites the bait quickly.
    She's adamant that her her brother committed the murders, but some members dispute her account. Astute viewers will notice that an off-screen interviewer in a video puts words into the 8-year-old's mouth, thus, bringing everything that she had said into dispute.
   Libby insists that she's right because her brother has never appealed his sentence. After much persuasion by Lyle, she goes to visit him in jail.
    But the sight of him is not what you'd expect. I expected a hardened criminal with a least an iota of menacing eyes and clenched fists. But what we get is clean-cut and bald adult Lyle (Corey Stoll, who used to be in House of Cards and will be seen in Ant-Man).
    The present day is intercut with images of the Day family 28 years ago. Christina Hendricks plays mum Patty, who's selling off farm property to keep debt collectors at bay and warding off her deadbeat husband. He at least looks scruffy.
   Again, Hendricks is too clean to play a harried farm wife. Her wide-eyed innocence is misplaced in this role, which needs a tougher and meaner character, or at least someone who can pass off as remotely threatened by creditors circling around her.
   Libby is aloof at first but she soon becomes a first-class detective, hunting down leads and going to places where she would never have gone before, such as, a strip club. It's so obvious that the killer is not her brother, but director Gilles Paquet-Brenner could have attempted to disguise that fact.
  To call Libby dogged and persevering is being too generous. Things just fall into place in her quest to find the truth.
1 1/2 out of 5 stars



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