Trigger warning: We do not recommend this show to anyone who has, or still is struggling with self-harming.
Anyone even vaguely familiar with bestselling novel Gone Girl or David Fincher’s 2014 film adaptation, would know about author Gillian Flynn’s fascination with the American mid-west. What fewer people know is that, this fascination began much before in her debut novel, Sharp Objects which has now been adapted into a mini-series by HBO. Produced and starring Amy Adams, the show sees her play the role of Camille Preaker, a troubled journalist forced back to her hometown. Her job is to investigate the disappearance and murder of two teenage girls, and while she’s at it, you can be rest assured that her past is going to drop by to say hello.
The mini-series sees HBO get back with director Jean-Marc Vallee after their blockbuster collaboration from last year in Big Little Lies (also interestingly produced by and starring Reese Witherspoon). But while the charm of Monterey and Big Little Lies lay in an entire community’s ‘he said/she said’, the narrative of Sharp Objects relies solely on her unreliable narrator.
Camille downs miniature vodka like it’s mouthwash and doesn’t mind the occasional cigarette, as she blasts her favourite music in her car. She’s constantly confronted by ominous flashbacks as a teenager, and how fluidly Vallee switches between present-day events to flashbacks, make it ambiguous for the viewer to tell between real memories from hallucinations, much like our intoxicated protagonist.
The show packs a tight ensemble around Adams, like the handsdown brilliant Patricia Clarkson. Playing Camille’s mother Adora, it’s incredible how much nervous energy she packs into her two scenes, barely five minutes long. HBO-regular Chris Messina plays the idealistic detective, trying to work alongside the grumpy local law enforcement.
Sharp Objects is exactly the kind of story one might expect from the author Gone Girl. The protagonist holds on to her damaging past, and yet somehow manages keeping it together (on the outside at least) between swigs of vodka and vivid visuals of her teenage-self. One gets the feeling that the rot at the heart of the town and its characters is slowly going to unravel, and Adams’ fans can hardly wait for it. In an era of Netflix and binge-watching, these weekly episodes are going to be hard to get used to.