Tonight we decided to finish the last two objects of Sharp Objects on HBO. If you are unfamiliar, the miniseries was an adaptation of “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn, the same writer who wrote “Gone Girl”. It starred Amy Adams.
Sharp Objects follows Camille (Amy Adams) as she goes home to the small Missouri city of Wind Gap. She returns as an investigative journalist sent there by her paternal editor-in-chief to investigate the murder of two young girls.
Its a brutal show. The imagery is rich but disturbing. The subject matter ranges from murder to rape to self-harm. It isn’t an easy or light plot by any stretch. In many ways, it reminded me of the first season of True Detective where the mystery at the heart of the narrative pulls you along but its the horrors and inhumanity of every day folks that keep you invested.
I have to say, I never thought of Missouri as the south. I’ve had the autocorrect the state name two times already writing this, so I don’t think of Missouri much at all, to be frank. Still, Wind Gap, its citizens, and setting of Sharp Objects feels southern in much the same way that Flannery O’Conner captured it in her Southern Gothic short stories.
I eat these kinds of stories up. Now, I didn’t grow up in a small town with a murder mystery or other dark secrets at its core, but I get it. I get the old money/new money dichotomy. I get the rundown hopelessness. I get the ignorant and the racist and other so-called “good folk” ruining and tarnishing the lives of those less inclined to hatred or bigotry. I can’t say Wind Gap exists, but the place Sharp Objects shows it is at least a reflection of far too many places, a reflection that ignores the surface level for a truer horror underneath.
Back to the show: I liked it overall. At times its dreamy-horror-wonder routine wavered into the realm of artsy nonsense, but the same worked for True Detective and it mostly worked here. The performances were all fantastic. Australian actress Eliza Scanlen was a clear standout as the creepy younger sister of Camille.
I loved the show’s overall focus on femininity. Rather than taking any sort of stand, it showcased the myriad of ways it can go wrong while also providing a few avenues for hope and overcoming those wrongs in the end. It is a very pessimistic view of humanity and femininity more specifically, but we need more stories like this to round out the cannon of our culture to show all of mankind’s rough edges, whether male or female or something else.
Without spoiling it, I thought the final act was a bit of a drag. I think with more editing, the bumps could’ve been smoothed out to make for slower, more gradual realization of what truly was happening. The final reveals felt too clean for a show that always left me feeling dirty.
I think as a Southern Gothic show, this is an outstanding example. I am grateful it didn’t have the mysticism of True Detective though an element of magical realism is always appreciated in these kinds of stories. I am also happy that this was a one-and-done. Despite the ending leaving room for more, I have had plenty.
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