Dark Places (2015)

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Gilles Paquet-Brenner directs Charlize Theron, Christina Hendricks and Nicholas Hoult in this crime thriller about the victim of a childhood massacre investigating her family’s murders decades later.

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl had a He Said / She Said hook that lent itself to cinematic adaptation. This sister thriller is as flat as week old cola in its faithfulness to her other book without that hook. The flashbacks don’t marry up to the present day framing sleuthing. We just meet older versions of the survivors and suspects who go tell us to go meet someone else, while the fateful day flashbacks play out independently and ambiguously inbetween. It could have been the imprisoned brother, the bookie Satan worshipping teen, the junkie Dad, the impoverished mom or even the de facto protagonist or even… somehow… Holt’s murder obsessed nerd kid (time travel willing). As we get close to the credits, clearly the ball is going to land in one of those roulette slots but they have all spun around so dispassionately that when the number is finally settled and the chips cashed in, all that you can do is meet the conclusion with a shrug. The route to the solution is so cold and rote it just doesn’t matter. It wastes a good cast, with only Hendricks’ doomed single matriarch managing to eke out any drama or personality or humanity in the rush. Considering the talent assembled, that is a brutal shame, more shocking than any twist this reaches. You can tell what attracted Theron to the project, her vague lead shares many of the arrested development attributes of her Young Adult anti-heroine. Whereas as that was a part that stretched her, here she ends up a mere SnapBack donning avatar to an inconsequential mystery.

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My Top 10 Charlize Theron Movies

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

2. Prometheus (2012)

3. Long Shot (2019)

4. The Cider House Rules (1999)

5. Atomic Blonde (2017)

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6. Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

7. Hancock (2008)

8. Tully (2018)

9. 15 Minutes (2001)

10. The Yards (2000)

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