First look at Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects adaptation

SHARP OBJECTS -- Photo credit: Anne Marie Fox/HBO -- Acquired via HBO Media Relations
SHARP OBJECTS -- Photo credit: Anne Marie Fox/HBO -- Acquired via HBO Media Relations /

HBO brought their latest limited series Sharp Objects, based on the novel by Gone Girl‘s Gillian Flynn, to ATX last night.

Yesterday marked the first of the four day ATX Television Festival and to make it even more special HBO brought the first episode of Sharp Objects for a world premiere, along with bringing Amy Adams and some of the creatives behind the project, including Gillian Flynn, creator and writer Marti Noxon, Jean-Marc Vallee, and Jason Blum.

It should be noted that text appeared that might not be the finished product, so make of that what you will.

Sharp Objects follows Camille Preaker (Amy Adams), a reporter from St. Louis that is sent on assignment from her boss (Miguel Sandoval) to return to her hometown of Wind Gap, a town in Missouri that has two missing and/or dead girls on its hands.

Similar to much of Gillian Flynn’s other work, at the center of this exists a damaged and unconventional take on a woman that is Camille Preaker. She drinks, lies, and is, in general, someone in a tremendous amount of emotional and mental pain.

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It’s the kind of character that feels very much like a staple of Flynn’s leads, but is in no way a bad thing. Camille is a woman who stays in a car jamming to a song rather than return back to her mother’s until she passes out, only to find that the car died when she wakes up. It’s the type of woman with edges upon edges that Amy Adams hits rather perfectly.

After the screening, there was a Q&A where the crew spoke a lot about how difficult this story would have been to adapt into a feature length film because so much of Camille is internal in the novel and it would be far too difficult to illustrate that in a 120 minutes. There was never a moment, though, that you don’t get what’s going on through her mind.

A lot of that is helped with the narrative device used flashing back to Camille’s teenage years with her sister, transitioning rapidly between where her younger self is in the same physical place. That’s then used to fiercely fuel things like her alcoholism or her interactions with others in the town. Sharp Objects isn’t just cutting back because it thinks the split narrative is compelling or functionally necessary but because these are the moments that Camille obsessively returns in her thoughts and continuously haunts her.

SHARP OBJECTS — Photo credit: Anne Marie Fox/HBO — Acquired via HBO Media Relations
SHARP OBJECTS — Photo credit: Anne Marie Fox/HBO — Acquired via HBO Media Relations /

It’s a fascinating twist on something that we’ve seen countless times in other shows and movies and it feels a bit refreshing.

There’s a lot of dread and mild terror felt throughout this first episode and a good deal of that goes to Jean-Mark Vallee’s direction, who directed the entire series, who makes some very deliberate choices with lighting in crucial moments throughout the episode.

Most notable is Vallee’s refusal to give in to HBO’s perhaps most famous inclination: displaying nudity for practically no reason. There are shots of Adams naked and in the bath, but it’s told matter-of-factly and without showing everything the way that other HBO series would. It’s removing much of the male gaze in that small move and making it that much harder for you to view her as a sexual object but, again, as a damaged woman with very real internal problems.

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More than anything, this first episode of Sharp Objects very encouraging for the rest of the episodes going forward and really makes us feel like we’re in good hands here.