After Gone Girl pretty much took over the world it seemed only natural that filmmakers would be quick to snap another of Gillian Flynn's novels to adapt. Dark Places was the novel of choice - though I believe Sharp Objects is getting a television adaptation - and honestly I'm surprised I didn't see this advertised everywhere. Either I just wasn't looking for it, because at the time of its release I'd never read any of Flynn's work, or the marketing was kind of poor.
This year I finally dove into Flynn's work. So far I've read Dark Places and Sharp Objects, which I've also reviewed here, and I still haven't decided if I'm going to pick up Gone Girl. I think it's inevitable that I will at some point, but I think I need a bit of a break from Flynn's worryingly dark brain before I do.
While I wasn't a fan of Sharp Objects, I did really enjoy Dark Places - in fact after I read it I realised I'd actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I had - and because I think we can all agree that Charlize Theron is basically a goddess I was eager to check out the film adaptation. I love watching a good crime drama, I watch a lot more crime fiction than I read, and I enjoyed watching this one, too. Is it as good as the book? No. Is it still pretty good all the same? Yes.
First thing's first: if you have read the book (and personally I think you should read the book first because there's a lot more to get out of it) don't go into the adaptation expecting the characters to look at all like they're described. Charlize Theron looks like... well, Charlize Theron, but she's still a great actress. Actually I forget how good an actress she is until I see her in something and I'm reminded that she's hella talented, and she's brilliant as Libby.
Most of the changes between the book and the film, and there are changes as there always are when it comes to adapting a story into a different medium, involved cutting things out that would have made the film too long. The basics are there and a lot of it's done well; Charlize Theron is a very good Libby, but I think the cast as a whole played their parts well, even Chloe Grace Moretz made a character I wasn't entirely sure I believed in the book a lot more plausible. That being said, I'm not sure I would have understood the film as well as I did if I hadn't read the book first. Obviously I can't know for certain that that's true - I can't erase the book from my memory and watch the film again - but something about the film felt a little... lacking compared to the book. It's not a bad film at all, but there's no doubt that the book is better.
Ultimately if you're a fan of the book I think this is a decent adaptation and one that you'll enjoy. If you haven't read the book I recommend you do simply because you're missing out on a very good book, but this is still a great film if you just want to curl up with some popcorn and try to figure out whether the butler did it or not.