Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dark Places movie vs book ... Day by Day

Ben Day (Tye Sheridan) center with Diondra (Chloe Grace Moretz)
and Trey (Shannon Cook) in Dark Places    Photo credit: Just Jared

I'm frantically aware I should have created a list of films for my Movies Based on Books 2014 page - oh God is it New Year's eve already? - if you're a procrastinator like me, check out the page for 2013. I can't blame the book completely but lately I've been distracted by one of the titles I'm looking forward to seeing on film;  Gillian Flynn's Dark Places. I'm about halfway through the novel; the movie comes out September 1st. It's the story of a woman - Libby Day played by Charlize Theron - whose testimony sent her brother to prison for murdering their mother (Christina Hendricks) and two sisters years ago. Now Day, out of cash, teams up with a ghoulish group called the Kill Club who pay her to help re-investigate the still traumatic crime. Flynn really knows how to write flawed characters doesn't she?  No one is innocent in a Flynn book. The author excels at revealing humanity with all our ugly failings; self-serving, weak and disreputable. There were no heroes living at the Day house. Libby herself, the protagonist, is a self-proclaimed liar and a thief. I find I'm feeling very much like I did when I read Flynn's Gone Girl; I hate everyone but there's no way I can stop reading! 


6ft 2in Corey Stoll plays the incarcerated Ben Day

And no character is quite as creepily flawed as Ben Day. I'm so conflicted. Again, I'm only halfway through the thriller so God knows what turns lay ahead but for now we're led to believe that Ben is innocent of the murder charge. But he's far from innocent. Is there something wrong with me that I'm feeling weirdly sympathetic to young Ben? Because he has done wrong, and I definitely don't approve but I find myself looking at the nuances. Which makes me feel, well yucky. Typical of Flynn; let you without sin, cast the first stone.
That's probably overstating it but you get my drift. 

Tye Sheridan plays 15 year old Ben Day 
photo by Jeff Vespa
" Trey was still walking around shirtless, sprigs of black chest hair and dark nipples the size of fifty-cent pieces, muscles lumping everywhere, a treasure trail down his belly Ben would never get. Ben, pale and small-boned and red-headed would never look like that, not five years, not ten years from now." Dark Places, p. 164
My conflict with young Ben's casting comes in part from the image I've conjured of the gentle, sensitive, trampled upon character. That slight soft spot may be harder to earn now that I've had a look at who's playing the creepy young 15 year old Ben. Tye Sheridan, who I only know as one of Brad Pitt's sons in Tree of Life, looks more sullenly thuggish than the Ben I see as I read. Director Gilles Pacquet-Brenner has done a pretty good job matching Corey Stoll as the older Day with Sheridan as the younger but neither actor physically resembles the fair skinned, red-haired, small boned Ben Day that Gillian Flynn created. Does it matter? 

Oh, and for you list lovers, I'm working on it. Labor Day will head up the list 2014's movies based on books. Due out January 31st, the film starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin has received mixed reviews but my filmmaking son loved it; that's all the recommendation this blogger needs.  

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