The Sunday Magazine: HBO’s Sharp Objects

One reason I enjoy the limited series on the premium cable networks is it allows for an actor room to add nuance that can’t often be squeezed into the running time of a movie. An actress who has had my admiration for a long time has been Amy Adams. Her performances are the reason I am drawn to watching things. When she was announced as the star of the HBO limited series “Sharp Objects” I knew I’d be watching.

Going into the series I was in an unfamiliar position as I have usually read the source material if it has existed as a book, previously. I don’t know why I never downloaded it because author Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” was so enjoyable. Having read that though it made me distrust the stories that every character was spinning. That put me on a foundation of sand in trying to figure out who to root for; which turned out to be a lot of fun.

The story is a traditional Southern Gothic set in the town of Wind Gap, Missouri. Ms. Adams plays the central character of Camille Preaker. Camille grew up in Wind Gap leaving to become a reporter in Saint Louis. She is sent back home on assignment to cover the murder of a teenage girl. Camille is fighting the current demon of alcoholism, pouring vodka into empty water bottles. Only to return to a place she escaped to deal with the unresolved demons left behind. Ms. Adams performance clues the viewer in on how difficult this is for her. Over the course of eight episodes she shows a woman barely holding it all together until the final revelations lead her to an act of slow motion suicide.

Amy Adams as Camille Preaker

The best episode comes in the middle named “Closer”. Taking place on Calhoun Day where the town celebrates the rape of a 13-year old girl by Union soldiers. She is lauded for not giving up the location of the Confederate men in town. That they recruit the local high school kids to re-enact this is creepy enough. Within the framework of the murder mystery it carries the subtext of what people will endure in silence. Before attending this though, Camille’s mother Adora wants her daughter to wear a dress. Taking her to the town clothing store she steals Camille’s clothes attempting to force a decision. When Camille walks outside of the dressing room in bra and panties displaying the reason why she won’t be seen in a dress it is Ms. Adams who exudes shame and anger until she gets her clothes back. After she returns to the dressing room she lets out a gut-wrenching scream of frustration.

This is where a story told over eight hours gets to explore everything more thoroughly. It was a slow build to this moment. It becomes a turning point on everything which will be revealed.

“Sharp Objects” in true Southern Gothic style comes to a deeply disturbing ending which can come off as gimmicky to some. I found it true to the form while being completely surprised. The last whispered line made the hair on my neck stand up.

Ms. Adams is the reason to watch “Sharp Objects” but the story is satisfyingly told around her.

Mark Behnke

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