Monday, July 6, 2015

Dark Places: Conspiracy Theories Fueling Drama Or Betraying Gender?

Unconditional love may be a good thing when it comes to parental devotion for children and pets for humans. But with any other category, say gender, an unquestioning perspective may ferry you into, let's say, dark places. Which is exactly where author Gillian Flynn's screen adapted novel of the same name, along with her prior nutty nailbiter Gone Girl, takes you. Though far less ludicrous in that regard, is the dark place beneath the lid of pouting protagonist Charlize Theron's perpetually worn baseball cap, as moody metaphorical fashion statement about something or other.

Charlize stars as Libby Day in Dark Places, a childhood victim experiencing the slaughter of her farming family, in what came to be tagged notoriously as the Kansas Prairie Massacre. The traumatized girl then testified against her brother Ben, currently serving a life sentence in prison. And Libby has since morphed into a full time sullen slacker, living off victim donations and the proceeds of a memoir she never actually wrote, or even read.

Running low on funds eventually, Libby reluctantly agrees to join a persistent eccentric club dedicated to solving or re-investigating notorious crimes. And they believe her brother is innocent, with possibly suspicious evidence mounted against him decades ago. Hard up for cash, Libby embarks on a quest she doesn't believe in, but eventually begins to feel some of these mounting doubts have merit. Including in ways too ridiculous to bother discussing here, a farm foreclosure crisis precipitating a deranged plan involving annihilation concocted by her essentially clinically depressed mother (Christina Hendricks  ) just prior to the massacre. And Chloe Grace Moretz doing unspeakable things as a pregnant psychopathic, devil worshipping bratty rich kid, don't ask.  

Dark Places along with Gone Girl, mystifies mostly in terms of Flynn somewhat obsessively crafting such distasteful female characters. And then handing over for co-conspiratorial execution, so to speak, these stories peppered with unpleasant when not deplorable women precipitating the misfortunes of the men around them, to male filmmakers. Gilles Paquet-Brenner as director of Dark Places, and David Finch in the case of Gone Girl. And what may signify simply a misogynistic self-hating female at the narrative helm, lurking somewhere in the background recesses -  simultaneous dark places as determinants of this dubiously driven story.

Prairie Miller