A Limited Look: Sharp Objects
The fact that we love movies is no secret, but it might be a little surprising that our next love in the storytelling world is a good limited series. This has become increasingly more true in the last couple of years with such outstanding series as Big Little Lies, which we discussed last week. The majority of movies take us on a journey in the matter of 90 to 180 minutes, and we get excited about them. However, limited series have the opportunity to cover the same type of material in five to eight hours total, which allows for a lot of further character development and plot twists. We’re not saying that limited series are superior; we’re just saying that it gives a different type of experience that we are all about at the moment.
So, with that being said, let’s look at another limited series from HBO that we found to be excellent and engaging: Sharp Objects.
Based on a novel of the same name from author Gillian Flynn, the miniseries follows a woman named Camille Preaker, a reporter who returns to her hometown after the murders of two young girls. Camille is quickly revealed as a troubled woman who has a history with alcoholism and self-harm. While she might be the main character, her family members also take the forefront. Her mother, Adora, is one of the most prominent members in the Wind Gap community who cares greatly about appearances, and her half-sister, Amma, is entitled and treated very much like a young child by their mother. The eight episode series explores not just Camille’s dynamics and the murder investigation but also the intricacies of small town politics and mentalities.
The Main Characters
-Camille Preaker- Portrayed by Amy Adams as an adult and Sophia Lillis as a child, Camille is a reporter in St. Louis. She has a history with alcoholism and self-harm, and her past is slowly revealed in the show through flashbacks. She is Adora’s child but has always felt like an outsider in her own family. She has avoided Wind Gap since she left, but when two young girls are murdered, her editor sends her back to investigate and face her own personal demons.
-Adora Crellin- Portrayed by Patricia Clarkson, Adora is a socialite and a prominent member of Wind Gap. While she shows no particular interest in Camille, she dotes on Amma endlessly. She is overly protective of Amma and is essentially a professional at passive aggressive comments. She has few close friends and constantly focuses on the way things appear to their community.
-Amma Crellin- Portrayed by Eliza Scanlen, she is the daughter of Alan and Adora and the half-sister to Camille. Amma comes across as sweet-natured and naive at various moments, but she shows her rebellious nature to Camille. With her friends, Amma can be quite a bully, but with her family, she appears sweet and pampered.
-Detective Richard Willis- Portrayed by Chris Messina, he is the outsider brought in from Kansas City to further investigate the cases. He has a difficult relationship with the local police, and while he and Camille do not start off seeing eye to eye, they begin to collaborate in narrowing down suspects and discovering the truth.
-Bill Vickery- Portrayed by Matt Craven, Vickery is the longtime police chief in Wind Gap. He is disturbed by the murders of the young girls, but his investigation has hit a bit of a standstill. He is unable to see the members of his community objectively and cannot fathom a member of his town being responsible for their deaths. He also has a close relationship with Adora and frequently speaks with her when Camille’s investigation bothers his own.
-Jackie O’Neill- Portrayed by Elizabeth Perkins, Jackie is the heart of gossip in Wind Gap. She used to be a close friend of Adora’s when Camille was a girl, but the two of them are at odds by the beginning of the series. Jackie has a soft spot for Camille and always tries to encourage her.
-Frank Curry- Portrayed by Miguel Sandoval, Frank is the editor of the St. Louis Chronicle where Camille works. He treats Camille as a surrogate daughter, and he is the one who assigns her to cover the story in Wind Gap. He is constantly concerned with Camille’s wellbeing as well as the progress of her story.
Where It Excels
One of the highlights of Sharp Objects is the fact that it takes a while for all of the pieces to come together. There is this level of suspense that is maintained throughout the entire series as this mystery is unraveled. In fact, the suspense is maintained not just about the murders but also in regards to Camille’s background. Shades of past events in Camille’s life are shown in every episode, and these glimpses only heighten the suspense. The whole series exudes a haunting, ominous tone, and every episode stays true to that.
The characters and the performances accompanying them is another strength of this show. Camille is an immensely layered character with a lot of demons in her past. Her unbearable grief defines her, and she is both strong and injured beyond belief. Amy Adams brings this pained, haunted person to life, and she completely disappears in the role. The two-sided nature of several characters in Wind Gap like Adora and Amma is startling but well written. Their unhealthy relationship also provides for another interesting thread in this series. In addition to some complicated main characters, the show does a good job of crafting supporting characters that are equally as unique. From Jackie, the drunken gossip, to Vickery, the subjective police chief, Wind Gap is full of characters with secrets to hide.
An Intriguing Mystery
The whole story is kicked off by Camille having to return to Wind Gap to investigate the murder of one girl while another one is missing. While the crimes end up having similarities, there are also differences that leave everyone involved questioning who could have committed such a crime. The mystery surrounding their murders is intriguing, especially as potential suspects are evaluated. Equally as intriguing, though, is Camille’s past and the backgrounds of the many women in Wind Gap. It results in a series with several mysteries to be solved, and it handles all of them well.
Use of Music
Last week I talked about the clever way that Big Little Lies incorporated music into their episodes. Sharp Objects also uses music effectively but in an entirely different way. The score itself is haunting in many ways, and it utilizes music at key points. Camille is usually the vehicle through which music is played, and it is used to demonstrate her mood and the progress of the story. Alan Crellin also consistently has soft instrumental music playing in the background to set the eerie, forbidding tone. Overall, the series uses a more subdued approach in terms of music, but it is still effectively used.
In conclusion, Sharp Objects is a haunting and engrossing series that leaves its audience pondering it long after it’s over. It boasts some unique cinematography and storytelling sensibilities, and the performances are top notch throughout the entire series.
So, have you watched Sharp Objects? What did you like about that limited series?
Comment and let us know! And in the meantime, look out for next week as we discuss another limited series worth exploring.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.