“Dark Places” was adapted for the screen from a novel of the same name written by Gillian Flynn who wrote “Gone Girl” both as a novel and adapted for the screen. She didn’t adapt “Dark Places” , though. Both are dark tales of contemporary life in America.
Libby Day, Charlize Theron, is the only survivor after her mother and two sisters are killed in the dark of night on their farm in the heart of Kansas. Libby testifies to witnessing her brother Ben as the murderer with the consequence of him being in prison for life. It is now 28 years after the terrible murder. Ironically, Ben has found forgiveness in his cell ( she asks him sarcastically if he has found Jesus. There was no reply.) Libby is still living in her dark place symbolized by her constantly hiding behind her baseball cap. ( But who could look more beautiful in a baseball hat and no make-up than Theron?)
This story may sound familiar to some of you. In the late 70s in the Kansas heartland, there was a family murdered in their farm home. Truman Capote wrote a non fiction account of the story, “In Cold Blood” which was also made into a movie. I remember reading it straight through one night. We were living in Manhattan, Kansas at the time. Kansas with its friendly people , middle American lifestyle and temperament for kind gentleness seems totally out of place where such a thing could happen.
Forgiveness is the over riding theme of the film. These are the questions the characters are struggling to answer . *How can one reconcile her past while living in the present? *How do we forgive ourselves and still acknowledge consequences as a natural result of our actions? (CT movie review)
It seems to me that most if not all of us are trying to escape our own “Dark Place” and to reach the light. Though not all this was resolved in a two hour film, there seemed to be hope. Charlize took off her baseball cap. When she visited the old farm house at the end of the film, it was bathed in light as a stark contrast to the deep darkness at the beginning when her family was slaughtered.
I thought this sounded familiar. I remember that murder, and I also read “In Cold Blood”, also in one sitting. Not something I could put down after starting it. I’ve also read “Dark Places”.
My big question, as always when a movie is adapted from a book, is the adaptation true to the story, or has it been altered to the point that the story is no longer recognized? I have never yet watched a movie after reading the book and been satisfied with the movie. The all time worst and most disappointing in my lifetime remains “Gone With The Wind”, but there are so many others that I couldn’t list them all. It makes me hesitate to watch a movie after reading the book.