“My demons are not remotely tackled, just mildly concussed.”
HBO and Filmspotting Podcast partnered to bring an advanced screening of the new HBO limited drama series, Sharp Objects, to the Chicago History Museum on July 13. Amy Adams (American Hustle, Enchanted) is Camille Preaker, a troubled journalist who returns to her small hometown, Wind Gap, to report on the murder of a preteen girl and the disappearance of another. While trying to put the pieces of these mysteries together, Camille is forced to confront her past and all of her own demons. Patricia Clarkson (Pieces of April, Easy A) is chilling as Camille’s mother, Adora Crellin. Chris Messina (Argo, The Mindy Project) stars as Detective Richard Willis, an outsider who has been brought in to assist in the investigations. Clarkson and Messina both appeared at the advanced screening.
The first two episodes tend toward a slow burn, which seems to be a trend in television (I see you, Bloodline and The Leftovers) but the tempo fits: it is a Southern Gothic, a genre of American literature that tends to include deeply flawed, disturbing or eccentric characters who may be involved in sinister events relating to or stemming from poverty, alienation, crime or violence. (Not to be confused with Southern Gothic, a gloriously fun production playing at the Windy City Playhouse through December 9, 2018. You should not miss it. I cannot stress this enough.)
Sharp Objects, based on Gillian Flynn’s best-selling debut novel, is a dark character study of a troubled alcoholic who is brought back to her hometown and comes face to face with all she left behind, including a particularly troubling relationship with her mother and her younger step-sister, Amma Crellin.
Episode Two, “Welcome to Wind Gap” in particular, feels deliberate. The viewer has a chance to “sit with the town for a while,” said author, screenwriter and executive producer Gillian Flynn, who appeared with Messina and Clarkson at the Chicago event. When asked why Sharp Objects was not developed into a feature-length film, Flynn said that she felt “a movie would lose Camille,” and that the limited series provides a better vehicle for this character’s development.
During a panel discussion, Clarkson, Messina and Flynn were asked about their early artistic influences.
Flynn: Bonnie & Clyde; Psycho; Alien.
Clarkson: Ingrid Bergman; Lucille Ball; Peter Sellars.
Messina: Back to the Future; The Goonies; The Godfather; Dog Day Afternoon; Chinatown.
Following the screening, guests were invited to experience the mystique and allure of Sharp Objects by stepping inside an interactive reproduction of the Crellin House. Additionally, Messina, Clarkson and Flynn mingled with the attendees at a reception after the episode was shown.
Sharp Objects appears on HBO on Sunday nights at 8p CDT.
Should I watch this? If you are a fan of Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson and slow-burn Southern psychodramas, yes.