So you remember Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn? Or as Neil Patrick Harris aptly renamed it at the 2015 Oscars Bitches Be Trippin’, Yo? How about Big Little Lies? The HBO series, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, that wasn’t afraid to tackle controversial topics such as rape, broken marriages and intricate lies. HBO’s brand new Sharp Objects is the perfect union of Flynn’s pen and Vallée’s creative direction.
Starring the incredibly talented Amy Adams, this series is a dark, moody look at the small town of Wind Gap, reminiscent of the first season of True Detective. Although this series is set in the midwestern state of Missouri which is not yet the proper South, there is a definite presence of the eccentric Dixieland.
But what makes this series so exceptional is the view it takes on women, and women struggling with mental health issues in particular. Women are uniquely depicted in the series, as the story is not told with the women as the subject – it is told by women, through women and the narrative envelops them – they move from subjects to agents.
In my opinion, feminine darkness is not something often depicted on screen with great success, but Sharp Objects’ interpretation of the demons these women harbour asks a very important question – is there a significant difference between male and female pain or darkness? Or is it simply the depiction thereof that differs?
If we take a look at Big Little Lies, for example, the women’s pain or darkness is a result of the actions that were inflicted upon them. If we think of Californication’s Hank Moody, his pain or darkness is a result of addiction, lust and in many instances, boredom. In this sense, Sharp Objects breaks the mould by having Amy Adams’ character, Camille Preaker, drawn to drugs, alcohol, sex and power as ‘explanation’ of her darkness.
The second, of many, things that Sharp Objects succeeds in is the dismantling of the main character’s memory and the re-assembling thereof in a hallucinatory mix of childhood remembrances, déjà vu and traumatic flashbacks that examine the very nature of memory. This effect cannot be achieved without some world-class editing and a keen eye for continuity, and Sharp Objects have both.
Fair warning, this is not a feel-good series. Sharp Objects is a rather intense look at women, mental health, murder, self-harm, family and more. It has the dark edge that made True Detective so popular, but without that series’ supernatural element, Sharp Objects is a long, hard, unblinking look at human nature.
Sharp Objects is currently being aired on HBO with episode 7, the finale, airing on 19 August 2018.
Image from hbo.com