TW: SELF-HARM, ALCOHOLISM
Any project that includes Amy Adams rightfully garners great attention, but this time, audiences can be graced with the actress’s talent in their homes each week in HBO’s latest limited series, Sharp Objects. Based on Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name, the premiere follows Camille Preaker, a reporter based in St. Louis, as her boss sends her back to her hometown of Wind Gap to cover the investigation of a murdered girl and a missing girl. Starting the first scene of the series with Camille being awakened by her younger self sets the haunting tone. Before we are introduced to the protagonist, it’s made known that she has demons that follow her, even in events that are supposed to be peaceful. Her editor obviously cares for her and believes this assignment will be good for the newspaper and Camille — personally and professionally. For Camille, however, it seems like a grave choice to return home and be reunited with her mother. She plays her music through her cracked phone — alluding to the show’s title — heavily drinks vodka throughout the day in a deceiving water bottle, and doesn’t interact much with other people. She’s broken — for unknown reasons as of yet — and she seems to accept this as her dark reality.
Just as she suspects, Camille’s return to Wind Gap isn’t welcomed by the townspeople, necessarily. The town sheriff, Vickery, doesn’t want the attention her story could bring to the investigation, but she is clever enough to get a few of the limited pieces they have in the case. The chilly feeling the town exudes, especially with such horrific, unsolved crimes, instantly rectifies Camille’s hesitation in returning to her hometown. She gets a warm and understanding welcome from Jackie, played by the always fabulous Elizabeth Perkins, and an old friend who now owns the local bar. But the friendly welcomes come to a halt when she finally goes back to her childhood home to see her mother, Adora, portrayed by a cold, unnerving Patricia Clarkson.
One of the most disturbing scenes in the premiere is when the body of the missing Natalie Keene is finally discovered, with her brother and other teenagers in close proximity. This serves as a wake-up call to Camille, and the assisting detective from Kansas City, Richard, to the reality of the dire situation at hand. Another shocking moment comes soon after the devastating discovery when Camille returns to her mother’s house to meet her half-sister, Amma. What’s surprising is not that it’s the same girl Camille had encountered multiple times in her short time home, but the drastic wardrobe change the teenager makes while home — most doll-like to match her dollhouse. To end the impressive first episode, we learn the disturbing reason why Camille only wears a long-sleeved gray shirt and black pants when it is the heat of the summer — she has cut words all over her body, revealing the episode’s title, “Vanish”, on her right shoulder.
While there are many dark, almost uncomfortable, scenes throughout the first hour of the limited series, the unnerving score matches the grim performances from the leading ladies. The short flashbacks, often just fleeting moments, give us just enough information to be intrigued by Camille’s mysterious past without getting the full story, particularly with her little sister’s death due to an unknown illness. As the beginning of what is already set up to be a crazy journey with many twists and turns, HBO’s latest series is off to a terrific start.