TV show everyone will be talking about tomorrow
SOMEONE give Amy Adams her Emmy now and save everyone a bit of time.
The Oscars might be unwilling to hand Adams the statuette after five nominations, but surely the Emmys will for her phenomenal performance as emotionally tortured journalist Camille Preaker in HBO series Sharp Objects, starting tonight on Foxtel's Showcase.
Based on Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn's first novel, the seductive eight-part miniseries also stars Patricia Clarkson, Chris Messina and Australian actor Eliza Scanlen. The TV series was created by Marti Noxon (Buffy, UnReal, Mad Men) while Flynn has a writing credit on three episodes.
Sharp Objects follows Camille (Adams), a reporter sent by her editor to her small hometown in Missouri to cover the story of two girls killed in a brutally theatrical way. The local sheriff (Matt Craven) wants to believe that it's an out-of-town drifter who did the deeds while a detective (Messina) sent from the big city is making little inroads into the insular community.
Camille is reluctant to accept the assignment - she's estranged from her domineering mother and the town, Wind Gap, is the source of her alcohol abuse, self-harm and recent stay in an institution.
Stepping out of the car and through the front door of her family's Victorian mansion with its wraparound veranda, it's as if Camille is transported back to all the haunted memories of her childhood.
Her mother Adora (a mesmerising Clarkson) is melodramatic in that Blanche DuBois way, swanning about the house in silk nightgowns and heels, forbidding her children from entering her ivory-tiled room and taking to bed after being pricked by a rose thorn.
Adora treats Camille's younger half-sister Amma (Scanlen) as if she's a doll - trussing her up in ribbons and Mary-Janes - while remaining oblivious to Amma's duplicitous rebellious streak, gliding through town on her rollerskates and stirring up as much sh*t as she can.
Sharp Objects effectively evokes the town of Wind Gap, a traditional southern town with a deep divide between the haves and have-nots, rampant alcoholism and shattered ambitions. People still call fridges iceboxes and the town's annual celebration is based on a historical rape.
Everyone is always sweaty, which is essentially cinematic shorthand for a hotbed of repressive attitudes. The bright sunshine in Wind Gap hides its dark secrets.
The roles women and girls are expected to inhabit, by men, by themselves, underscore the sticky dynamic of Sharp Objects. The series isn't afraid to show that women can be profoundly flawed.
The mystery of the dead girls might appear to be what drives the show, but the real momentum is discovering Camille's past, which is slowly revealed through obscured flashbacks.
Adams is entirely enthralling in her performance. It's a pared back approach, always restrained but never opaque. She's often the person with the least amount of dialogue in any scene but what Adams conveys through body language and with her face - the way Camille always looks defensive or how she clutches that water bottle secretly filled with vodka - is the mark of an actor in total command of her craft.
The role is the first TV gig Adams has done since a three-episode run in the second season of The Office as Jim's girlfriend Katy 12 years ago. Before that she had guest roles in The West Wing, Buffy and Charmed. Sharp Objects is another example of what TV can do where films fall short - give time and space to accomplished actors to really bring to life a meaty role.
Sharp Objects has already invited comparisons to Big Little Lies and that's partly because Jean-Marc Vallee, who directed that series is doing the same here. He brings a visual flair to Sharp Objects - a dreaminess that's more like a nightmare while the abrupt edits point to Camille's disjointed state of mind.
But it's really in the writing and the performances that Sharp Objects excels - this is a tantalising, confident show with a strong female voice, even if that voice sometimes belongs to monsters.
Sharp Objects starts tonight on Foxtel's Showcase channel at 8.30pm.
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