Blu-ray Review: ‘Sharp Objects’

If you think you have a rough home life—or rough life in general—just watch Sharp Objects to make yourself feel better. From the mind of Gillian Flynn, the author best known for such uplifting fare as Gone Girl and Dark Places, Sharp Objects is an adaptation of Flynn’s excellent first novel, a disturbing burrowing into small-town life full of serial killers, horrible mothers, and scarred protagonists.

The eight episode limited series that debuted on HBO earlier this year is now on Blu-ray, and is worth checking out as long as you have a lot of patience.

Lots and lots of patience.

Sharp Objects is a superbly made mini-series that dives much deeper into the haunted mind of journalist Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) than Flynn was ever able to in her book. Ever since a traumatic incident as a teenager, and having grown up under the watchful eye of her possessive mother (Patricia Clarkson), Camille is a mess, her physically damaged body only a hint of the demons trapped within. The series is about Camille trying to discover a killer of girls, but it’s also about what is killing Camille from the inside.

Adams is absolutely stunning in the role, delivering one of her finest performances to date. Given the long format she is able to explore every nuance of Camille’s inner-torture while still doing her part to propel the story forward. Clarkson is equally good, a tragic character in her own right and yet one that elicits much less sympathy.

Eliza Scanlen, meanwhile, is unforgettable as Camille’s little sister, a two-faced (three-faced?) girl whose personality is as nebulous as her intentions. While Adams and Clarkson have received the majority of attention, Scanlen’s character is arguably the most fascinating.

Created by Marti Noxon and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, Sharp Objects is a sight to behold, a beautifully filmed and constructed series that operates both literally and seemingly as a portal into Camille’s fractured mind. The adaptation of Flynn’s source material is complex, alluring, and ultimately disturbing.

The show’s one big issue is that, at eight episodes long, the story feels stretched to its breaking point. For many of the episodes it’s almost easy to forget that Sharp Objects is about the hunt for a serial killer, its attention preferring to linger on Camille’s mental state and family life more than anything else. Of course, everything is intertwined, but the argument could be made that had the series been two episodes shorter and subsequently tighter, it would have worked just as well if not better, maintaining momentum that occasionally gets lost.

Unless you’re expecting a straightforward investigative story, which you shouldn’t since Flynn isn’t known for her straightforward investigative stories, there is a lot to appreciate from Sharp Objects. It’s one of the best produced runs of television in 2018, one that is worth revisiting.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: TV Series