HOLLYWOOD—Do you enjoy watching captivating television? Do you enjoy seeing actors or actresses deliver top-notch performances that scream awards season? Well, HBO might have another hit on its hands following the success of “Big Little Lies” with its latest outing “Sharp Objects.” The mini-series stars Oscar nominees Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson and is based on the novel written by Gillian Flynn, yes the same woman crafted the fantastic “Gone Girl.”
I think what peaked my interest in the series was having Jean-Marc Vallee in the director’s chair for the series. Vallee did exceptional work crafting the palpitating tension for “Big Little Lies” and it’s apparent he has captured that same magic perhaps a bit unnerving for “Sharper Objects.” Why is that? Well we have a mystery on our hands and I love a great mystery. Adams stars as Camille Preaker, a reporter who has a ton of baggage. Not only is she an alcoholic, but she has recently been discharged from a psychiatric hospital where she was seeking treatment for self-harm, and she has all types of phrases written on her body to prove it.
Vallee does an incredible job immersing the viewer into the small town of Wind Gap, which seems peaceful, but dark, slightly gloomy. It is very apparent plenty of people are keeping secrets in this town. At the catalyst of the narrative is the murder of two young girls, which prompts Camille back to her hometown to investigate. The series is without a doubt playing with the element of time, as we get flashes to the past of Camille as a little girl, giving us a slice of Camille’s life and her upbringing. This is vital people because Camille has a very fraught relationship with her domineering and socialite of a mother, Adora, played with ferocity by Clarkson.
Camille’s alcoholism is no joke; the woman travels with a brown paper bag full of small bottles of liquor to help her grapple with her addiction, in addition to cigarettes. Adams brings an interesting dynamic to such a flawed character, because you would expect someone in her position to be unable to operate in such a professional manner the way she does. She goes to battle with Police Chief Bill Vickery (Matt Craven), who is doing his best to keep the case as tight-lipped as possible, but the more people dig the more he fights back.
Let’s add a bit more baggage to Camille’s situation involving her half-sister Amma (Eliza Scanlen). Adora is protective of Amma and she does her best to keep Camille as far away from her sister as possible. At first it is not known why, but as the story moves along its makes perfect sense. More firepower is brought to the case with the arrival of Detective Richard Willis (Chris Messina), who is assisting from Kansas City. Just witnessing the friction between Camille and Adora after not seeing each other for years, tells you the tension could explode at any moment.
The flashbacks inform the audience that Camille and her younger sister Marian shared a strong bond as kids, but it was severed because of her sister’s medical condition, which resulted in her death as a kid. It looks like the loss of Marian is the catalyst of the animosity between mother and daughter. As Camille fishes for detail from Willis, she begins to suspect that Natalie Keene’s brother, John, might know something about her murder. Amma is just as rebellious as her older sister, but hides her wild side from her mother whose level of pretention is aggravating. She will keep up a façade for the townsfolk at any cost; Adora does not take embarrassment well, and she scolds Camille whenever the opportunity arises.
There is a level of gruesomeness to the murders; Natalie was found with her teeth yanked out and positioned like a doll in an alley, while Ann Nash was found in the woods. This draws the audience to the mystery culprit at hand, the ‘The Woman in White’ who a local boy spotted (but he is considered trash and can’t be trusted), but Camille also spots this figure. There is one slight problem, the audience doesn’t know if what Camille saw was real or if it’s a vision from her past. Either way it’s important to say the least. Hmm, I found that interesting that Amma is a fan of dolls, and it seems this might be a possible motive for our killer, rather that person is Adora, her hubby Alan (Henry Czerny) or someone else in town is still up in the air. Its apparent Adora has not properly grieved the loss of her daughter Marian, because her room remains a shrine and no one is allowed to enter. Camille took her sister’s death hard as a child, causing a scene at the funeral as she grappled with the fact that her sister was no longer in the flesh, but here is another crucial clue: her sister was positioned just like a doll in her casket! Just saying people.
Trust me I was tempted to cheat and search the internet to find out how Gillian Flynn’s book ends, but I’ll watch each episode to see how things unfold. I like the mystery of things. I was intrigued by the first episode; I’m hooked after the second episode, and so will you. “Sharp Objects” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.