If nothing else, Sharp Objects has an expertly curated soundtrack, offering tunes that run the gamut from artists like Led Zeppelin, Tupac, LCD Soundsystem, The Doors, The Acid, and Mark Batson. The show is pretty good, too. An eight-episode miniseries from HBO, Sharp Objects is an adaptation of Gillian Flynn's ("Gone Girl") novel and stars Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson. Part murder mystery and part simmering family drama, Sharp Objects offers plenty of scenery to chew on and more than a little bit of Midwestern small-town sass. Largely involving and gorgeously lensed, Sharp Objects kept my interest throughout its extended running time.
Camille Preaker (Adams) returns to Wind Gap, Missouri, after being released from a psychiatric hospital for self-harm and alcohol addiction. Still employed by a St. Louis newspaper, Camille is tasked by her editor to dig into the details surrounding the murder of a young girl and the disappearance of another. Camille reluctantly returns to the home of her disapproving socialite mother Adora Crellin (Clarkson), stepfather Alan (Henry Czemy) and half-sister Amma (Eliza Scanlen), which is enough to open painful old wounds. Soon, the second girl turns up dead, and Camille competes with Detective Richard Willis (Chris Messina) for leads while avoiding high-key shade from Adora and juggling rotating bouts of affection and contempt from Amma.
Adora harbors all kinds of contempt for Camille, whom she resents for being so difficult, so unloving and so damaged. Camille watched another half-sister (Lulu Wilson) die as a child. Adora never fully recovers from this, even pushing away Alan, who spends hours listening to his stereo through high-dollar headphones. Camille's body bears the scars of her torment, and she continues to self-medicate with alcohol and endless driving in her Volvo. There is plenty of darkness simmering below the surface of the pristine Wells Gap exterior, including sexual misconduct, misogyny and overt prejudice. Allegiances are drawn over murder suspects and one's opinion of their guilt or innocence, and Sharp Objects continuously reveals more connections between the victims and other townsfolk.
At times a slow burn but with enough action and drama in each episode to make up for it, Sharp Objects offers fine acting, particularly from Adams and Clarkson, throughout the eight episodes. Without going too deeply into spoiler territory, I can say the series runs off the rails a bit in the final act, and some of the character and plot-thread connections become a little too convenient. Even so, this show is a nice way to let Flynn's material breathe, something the pressed-for-time Gone Girl struggled to do in a theatrical setting. Mystery and pulpy, small-town social melodrama fans should enjoy this limited series.
Each episode receives a 1.78:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image from a digital source. The whole series is quite visually stunning, with intricate framing, purposeful mise en scene and targeted focus, and the transfers are quite impressive. Fine-object detail and texture are strong, wide shots are clear and deep, and skin tones are accurate. Colors are somewhat dusty and subdued but are accurately saturated, and black levels and shadow detail both are good. Other than some occasional softness, I noticed few flaws here.
Each episode receives a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that provides solid support for the aforementioned soundtrack. Environmental effects are immersive, as are the few action-oriented moments. Dialogue is crystal clear, and all elements are balanced effectively. French and Spanish lossy dubs and a host of subtitle options are included.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc set is packed in a standard case that fits inside an attractive slipbox. Digital copies of the episodes are included. The only extra is found on Disc 2: Creating Wind Gap (5:10/HD), a short piece about creating the locations for the show.
This miniseries adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel is an intriguing mix of melodrama and murder mystery that is buoyed by strong work from Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson. Recommended.