TV’s love affair with women leading storytelling continues in the new HBO drama Sharp Objects.
Based on the novel of the same name by bestselling author Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), Sharp Objects is created by Marti Noxon (UnREAL, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and superbly directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies). With that kind of pedigree it doesn’t take much to figure out this will be the next big thing in Hollywood’s awards circles.
Amy Adams plays Camille Preaker, a crime reporter at the St. Louis Chronicle, who is trying to pull her life back together. With alcoholism and repressed secrets vexing her, she is sent by editor Frank Curry (Miguel Sandoval) to her hometown of Wind Gap to report on the murders of two young girls.
“I’m not going to win a Pulitzer off Wind Gap,” she tells him, before learning she has no choice.
Wind Gap is a town of “old money” or “trash” according to Camille and as she drives through the wide streets of the sleepy Missouri town the memories come flooding back. There are things she is trying to forget, and the booze helps ease the pain.
The wonderful Patricia Clarkson (Six Feet Under, The Pledge, Pieces of April) plays her old money mom Adora, still with a black maid working in her grand southern house. But Adora doesn’t like surprises such as her daughter’s unannounced arrival and is even less-enamoured with the idea of Camille delving into local crime stories.
“Wind Gap murders children -is that what you want people to think?” Adora asks.
Other key characters in the opening chapter are Chris Messina as Detective Richard Willis who is pursuing the case separate to the local police chief Vickery (Matt Craven), Elizabeth Perkins as longtime friend Jackie and Aussie Eliza Scanlen (Home & Away) in what will become a break-out role for her in the US.
Director Jean-Marc Vallée casts an eye for detail in this intimate and delicate subject. There are hand-held cameras, hushed tones, moodily-created scenes and a constant vulnerability. As with Big Little Lies, the women get all the best parts here. Amy Adams is fragile and complex as the journalist torn between her past and her nose for news. The best scenes invariably see her manoeuvre around her controlling mother, where the subtext is screaming unresolved history.
It’s also a work that is keenly focussed on its protagonist, making the journey far more enjoyable than mysteries setting up multiple characters or red herrings.
Just what went on in this town and how it ricochets on the key players is yet to be fully realised, but
I’m on board for the ride.
Sharp Objects airs 11am Monday on Showcase.