Sharp Objects premieres July 8th, 9pm on HBO.
By I. Simon
One of last year’s most delightful surprises was HBO’s Big Little Lies, receiving loads of critical acclaim and going on to win multiple Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Limited Series. When I had heard that Big Little Lies director Jean-Marc Vallée would be helming another HBO miniseries, Sharp Objects, I was very optimistic, as it is based on a novel by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, and would star Amy Adams. Between movies like Arrival (which she was robbed of an Oscar nomination for) and The Master, and various other films, Adams has proven to be one of the very best actresses working today. Having seen the first seven out of the eight episodes of Sharp Objects, I am ecstatic to report that Sharp Objects does indeed live up to its potential.
Set in Missouri, Sharp Objects follows Camille Preaker (Amy Adams), a crime journalist recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital after years of self-harming, who returns to her hometown to investigate the homicide of two young girls, while also taking her back to her childhood home under the critical eye of her mother, Adora (Patricia Clarkson), which forces Preaker to confront her past.
Vallée’s direction here is not only significantly better than that of Big Little Lies, but it is excellent as a whole. He brings in plenty of tension when it is needed, and cleverly uses his signature editing to not only build tension but also to convey certain information to audiences through very short flashbacks. The cinematography is stellar, the sound design is fantastic, and even the production design stands out in some aspects of Sharp Objects, portraying a town that in contrast to Big Little Lies, is much more gritty. That said, the excellent screenplay, co-written by Gillian Flynn and Marti Noxon, is just as praiseworthy as Vallée’s direction, if not more so. The narrative is highly engaging and unpredictable, the dialogue is vibrant, and the characters are, for the most part, very realistic. Camille Preaker’s arc, in particular, is incredible, and Vallée, Flynn, and Noxon all do such an exceptional job exploring it, making her as much of a compelling protagonist as she can be.
With all that said, Sharp Objects does not work without Amy Adams’ phenomenal performance, a career-defining performance that is by far the best I have ever seen from her, perfectly portraying Camille Preaker’s downward spiral and her mental disorder, as well as her determination to solve the assignment. I am doing my best to avoid spoilers, as it is beneficial to go into the miniseries as blind as possible, but if anything solidifies that Amy Adams is the greatest actress working today, it’s her impeccable work here. It’s very upsetting that she might not get a well deserved Emmy for her performance due to timing.
As for the supporting performances, the most notable standouts are Patricia Clarkson as Camille’s mother, Adora, and Sophia Lillis (who one may know from playing Beverly Marsh in Andy Muschetti’s IT (2017) as the younger Camille. Both of them provide amazing performances here.
Overall, Sharp Objects very much lives up to its potential and is truly television at its peak. It makes for an incredible miniseries that is both thrilling and unpredictable and is worth seeing alone just for a phenomenal performance from Amy Adams. I highly recommend tuning in when Sharp Objects premieres on HBO on July 8th, as it is genuinely excellent television that you will not want to miss.
I give Sharp Objects an A+.