Sharp Objects Review: Amy Adams Walks the Razor's Edge in a Town Full of Fault Lines

HBO’s latest limited series, Sharp Objects, is, quite simply, the programming event of the summer.

Amy Adams stars as St. Louis newspaper reporter Camille Preaker, who is dispatched downstate to cover the murder of a preteen girl in Wind Gap, Mo., the small, less-than-idyllic town where she was born — and where, we realize quickly in this grippingly atmospheric series, she suffered a trauma that has left her a barely functioning alcoholic with dissociative issues (and worse). Every fresh detail triggers a jarring flashback linking her terrible past to Wind Gap’s foul underbelly.

Objects is adapted from the 2006 novel by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, the man responsible for Big Little Lies, and once again he creates a sense of tantalizingly ambiguous indirection, as well as repressed psychological forces that seep and spread like a stain across a plaster ceiling.

Adams emphasizes Camille’s piercing, roving curiosity — she’s a mess, but a focused one — while Patricia Clarkson has a wilting grandeur as her condescending, endlessly hostile mother: She’s like a flower arrangement that could benefit from a change of water.

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Also, be sure to keep an eye out for the show’s most mysterious character, Camille’s odd half-sister Amma, played by Australian actress Eliza Scanlen. At home, Amma feigns an innocence that’s close to precious, as if she’d spent too much time at the American Girl outlet. Back in town, she’s rebelliously carnal. Scanlen, a 19-year-old Perth native known in Australia for the soap opera Home and Away, sews these halves together with perhaps a stitch from Twin Peaks.

Sharp Objects premieres Sunday, July 8, at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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