Sharp Objects (2018)

sharp objects poster 2018 tv series
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson, weird Southern Gothic meets Midwest feel

Aspects of the story let down the overall story by being underdeveloped

sharp objects title card amy adams review episode guide list

Happy Homecoming!

A girl named Ann Nash is dead and another girl named Natalie Keene is missing in the small southern Missouri town of Wind Gap.  Reporter Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) finds herself sent to cover the story by her paper editor Frank Curry (Miguel Sandoval) and headed back into a world she hoped to escape.  Wind Gap is Camille’s home town and the town holds bad memories for Camille.  When Camille was young (Sophia Lillis), her sister Marian (Lulu Wilson) died tragically and Camille has never gotten over the pain.  Now Camille is headed home and will have to confront her overbearing mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson), her step-father Alan (Henry Czerny), and her half-sister Amma (Eliza Scanlen) who she barely knows.  The town of Wind Gap has also already judged Camille and getting the answers might be impossible.  With a young Kansas City detective Richard Willis (Chris Messina) butting heads with the hometown chief Bill Vickery (Matt Craven), solving the crime could awaken Camille’s self-destructive behavior again.

sharp objects episode 5 closer patricia clarkson

“Mom of the Year” (Just Ask Her)

Sharp Objects is a mystery-suspense HBO limited series.  Airing from July 8, 2018 to August 26, 2018, the series is an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s debut 2006 novel.  The series won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Clarkson) and received nominations for Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television and Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television (Adams).  It received Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Adams), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Clarkson), Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Movie or Special, Outstanding Contemporary Costumes (“Closer”), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited Series or Movie (“Fix”), Outstanding Non-Prosthetic Makeup for a Limited Series or Movie, and Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie (“Closer”).

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Are you reading me?

I heard a lot of buzz about Sharp Objects, and Amy Adams can do no wrong.  I was hesitant because though a lot of people loved Gone Girl, it wasn’t my favorite movie…so to dip into another Gillian Flynn creation had me a bit wary.  The series is quite strong and growing up in a smaller Midwestern town (though near “the big city” vs. isolated like Wind Gap), I get small town secrets to some extent…and Sharp Objects is full of them.  Due to the mystery aspect of the story, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

The series is set-up as a mystery but for much of the show it isn’t horribly mysterious.  I admit that I wasn’t sure who the killer definitely was most of the show (and was technically wrong), but it was less about solving the mystery than about Adams’ character confronting her demons.  As a result, the mystery sometimes feels like it takes a backseat to the family drama, the self-destruction, and the outsider mentality that encompasses the series.  The mystery of course wraps all back into this, but it feels like it is obviously tied to Camille’s family…it was just a matter of how.  You knew that the Bob Nash or John Keene characters weren’t guilty almost from the start so for them to be the focus of the “whodunit” felt a bit wasted.  It felt like stalling until you learned who actually the killer was.

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Sisters, Sisters…there were never such devoted sisters

It feels like the type of series that is built on a twist and it largely is.  The only problem with this is that the twist is literally in the last minute of Sharp Objects and two brief credit scenes.  It is revealed that while Adora did kill Marian Crellin through her Munchausen syndrome by proxy, that Amma is the real killer…due to the jealous side inspired by her mother’s smothering behavior (it is assumed).  She killed Ann Nash and Natalie Keene and used their teeth to help recreate the ivory floor in her replica of her home…and then added poor innocent Mae (played by Iyana Halley) who feels like collateral damage for the twist.  With such emphasis on the mystery throughout the eight episodes, it feels like more than a “gotcha” should have been given (it is drawn out in the book)…it also feels like a bit of a disservice to the whole Natalie Keene and Ann Nash murder story since you never get much closure of the families involved.  To drag it on might have been problematic, but the ending itself also is a bit of a letdown.

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Persephone is a little dark

What can’t be faulted at all is the acting.  The quality of the cast is quite strong.  Amy Adams really plays damaged well.  Sometimes you feel that an actress in this type of role is “playing down”, but Adams feels right for it.  You also want to jump through the TV to strangle Patricia Clarkson who is maddening through most of the series (and Amy Adams feels far more tolerant than most would be).  Likewise the twist isn’t necessarily a shocking twist involving Eliza Scanlen who feels a bit too smart and obviously knows she’s playing both sides throughout the show…which makes her turn not out of left field.  I like Miguel Sandoval and Barbara Eve Harris as the only people who seem to genuinely care about Camille’s well-being, but I think Chris Messina is a little flat and under developed.  The most underused character is Elizabeth Perkins who shines in her scenes, but never really gets to be in enough to be any more than a gossip that drinks too much…and it feels like there is more of a character there that is unexplored.

sharp objects episode 8 milk amy adams

God…I hate my family

The series has the tone and feel of a Southern Gothic, but there is something extremely Midwestern about it as well.  The visuals of the series paint a northern city but the behavior and ethics of the people of Wind Gap are more southern.  In this sense, the winding and twisting visuals of Sharp Objects work to create a weird and unique feel that doesn’t quite feel like True Detective, but it also doesn’t feel like something like Northern (or Northeastern) crime thriller like Gone, Baby, Gone.  It feels like a world of its own.

Small towns are weird things.  People know things and asking the right questions might or might not get you the answers you need.  There are whispered stories of unplanned pregnancies, affairs, and abuse, but it largely stays behind closed doors.  Sharp Objects lives in this world where everyone knows the truth of some of the town’s biggest secrets, but telling them is considered tacky…even if they are criminal.  While I feel some of the story aspects of Sharp Objects defeat the series in the end, the overall experience is good…take a visit to Wind Gap.

sharp objects episode 1 vanish amy adams


Episode 1        Vanish Airdate:  07/08/18

Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) is a St. Louis reporter who has been tasked by her editor Frank Curry (Miguel Sandoval) to do something that she doesn’t want to do:  Camille is being sent home.  In Wind Gap, Missouri, Camille is going to have face demons of her past which includes her mother Adora Crellin (Patricia Clarkson) who is known for having money in the town, a stepfather Alan (Henry Czerny), and a half-sister named Amma (Eliza Scanlen) that she doesn’t really even know.  She’s also going to have to face her past and the death of her sister Marian (Lulu Wilson) who died when Camille (Sophia Lillis) was a teenager.  Camille has the unhappy task of investigating the murder of a girl named Ann Nash and the disappearance of another girl named Natalie Keene (Jessica Treska).  Small town life has its secrets, and Camille is being forced to dig in and expose them.

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Episode 2        Dirt Airdate:  07/15/18

The discovery of Natalie’s body has pushed the investigation into the direction of a serial killer.  With Camille and her mother butting heads over her reporting, Camille finds her younger sister Amma has her own rebellious side.  The town attends the funeral of Natalie and finds many don’t trust Bob Nash (Will Chase), the father of Ann Nash, and there are also questions surrounding Natalie’s brother John (Taylor John Smith).  Kansas City detective Richard Willis (Chris Messina) seeks out his own means of investigation as Camille learns of a report of a Woman in White who might have taken Natalie.

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Episode 3        Fix Airdate:  07 22/18

Camille recalls trying to get help for her cutting and meeting a girl named Alice (Sydney Sweeney) who had similar problems.  An attempted interview with Bob Nash is stopped by Adora leaving Camilla seeking answers elsewhere.  Ashley Wheeler (Madison Davenport) sets Camilla up with an interview with John Keene, but the interview doesn’t go as planned.  As Adora worries about Camilla’s influence on Amma, Camille learns the connection between Adora and the missing girls was closer than she thought.

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Episode 4        Ripe Airdate:  07/29/18

Camille debates leaving town but finds herself invited by Jackie O’Neill (Elizabeth Perkins) to discuss town gossip.  Richard gets a personal tour of Wind Gap from Camille and learns Camille has her own past with the town.  John Keene discovers himself out of work at the pig factory due to rising suspicions against him, and Adora butts heads with Chief Bill Vickery (Matt Craven) as Calhoun Day approaches.  Amma’s ties to the missing girls is exposed.

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Episode 5        Closer Airdate:  08/05/18

It is Calhoun Day and the town is coming out to celebrate.  When Camille’s article is published, tensions begin to rise around town.  Adora’s demands to Camille to dress up for the day leads to Camille’s secret being revealed to Amma.  A fight between Bob and John leads Amma to run away, and Camille learns a secret from her mother.

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Episode 6        Cherry Airdate:  08/12/18

Camille learns from Alan that her welcome is wearing thin and that she’s causing her mother pain.  Richard seeks out information about Camille’s past and learns of what could have caused Camille’s hospitalization.  A gathering of Camille’s old high school “friends” reignites memories of the troubles she faced in school.  Amma forces Camille to come to a high school party where Camille has an eye-opening experience.

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Episode 7        Falling Airdate:  08/19/18

After her night of partying with Amma, Camille finds her mother tending to her and has memories of her child.  Richard looks into Marian’s death and makes a discovery that was hidden in the records.  Camille reaches John Keene before police and has an intimate encounter over their losses…but the discovery of Richard’s findings sends Camille with questions to Jackie.

sharp objects episode 8 milk amy adams patricia clarkson


Episode 8        Milk Airdate:  08/26/18

Adora’s Munchausen syndrome by proxy has finally grabbed Camille as Camille hopes to alert the authorities to her mother’s actions.  Being poisoned, Camille finds herself in a desperate attempt to rescue Amma and herself, but even if Camille can get clear of her mother, the future might not be as perfect as she hopes.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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