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Sharp Objects - Vanish - Review: An Emmy For Amy Adams

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"A town so suffocating and small, you tripped over people you hated every day. People who knew things about you. It's the kind of place that leaves a mark."

For those of you who want to know what this is about I'd recommend you go to the preview and avoid spoiling yourself, but for those who have already watched the first episode, this is a place to share your thoughts, discuss theories and perhaps make the whole experience a little bit lighter, it can be a heavy thing to watch as it explores the darkness that can lay beneath the stillest of waters. Especially given how well this eight-part limited series captures the gloomy nature of Gillian Flynn's story.

We begin with a glimpse of what Camille Preaker's life is in St. Louis, she works at a newspaper and lives alone, though that might be debatable since she seems to be constantly haunted by ghosts of her past, she copes by drinking, smoking and carving the words in her head on every possible surface, including her skin. She hasn't really done that for years but that's perhaps because she has no more room for words, at least not where she can cover them up. Amy Adams completely embodies this role, if this show doesn't get her an Emmy I don't know what will.

"The cutting made me feel safe. It was proof. Thoughts and words, captured where I could see them and track them. The truth, stinging, on my skin, in a freakish shorthand."

She's clearly depressed and she has to sleep listening to music to quiet the voices in her head. At work she's not exactly thriving either, her boss says she's only half good at writing but the truth is she only lacks the charm needed to keep people engaged when everything around them aims to distract, besides not everyone can appreciate a moody, steady, voice, something not aimed for entertainment but reflection. She also has a good investigative mind but she's terrible with subtlety and keeps triggering people and driving them away.

Her boss, Frank Curry, is played by Miguel Sandoval (Medium, Station 19, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency), he calls her in to tell her there might be a story in her hometown of Wind Gap and the paper needs a break to get ahead. She's reluctant but he doesn't pull any punches (I love the look she gives him when he orders her to go). Curry clearly cares for her, which is made even clearer when he and his wife Eileen call to check up on her, on those calls he coughs often which in any other show might mean he's a dead man walking but nothing is certain with Flynn.

"Life is pressure, grow up."

She heads to Wind Gap where 9-year-old Ann Nash was found dead a while back and now another little girl is missing, Natalie Keene. She immediately goes to see the police chief, Vickery (Matt Craven - Resurrection, X: First Class), who's not very media friendly. He loosens up just a little when he learns she's part of a prominent family he knows: "you're the..." he stops himself from saying "black sheep" or perhaps something worse. But when she tries to resume talking about the case, he makes a face that lets her know he's amused by her persistence but he won't have it, he doesn't want this to be all the town is known for, he does tell her the facts of Ann Nash's murder but it seems they have no leads.

She decides to join the search party hoping it will turn up a dead little girl, to be fair there was no chance Natalie was alive, but that doesn't make Camille any less dark and fucked up. There she finds Jackie (Elizabeth Perkins - Weeds, This Is Us), an old friend of her mom's who's the friendliest person she'll find, and Kansas Detective Richard Willis (Chris Mesina - The Mindy Project, The Newsroom, Damages) who was called by Vickery in a moment of weakness but now seems no one wants around.

"Every time people said I was pretty, I thought of everything ugly swarming beneath my clothes."

Finally, she gathers up the courage to go see her mother, Adora Crellin (Patricia Clarkson - House of Cards, Six Feet Under, Jumanji) who married out of her maiden name, "Preaker", around thirty years ago to Alan Crellin (Henry Czerny - Revenge, The Tudors) who's described in the book as lifeless: "I always wanted to administer an IV when I saw him". Now they have a teenage daughter, Amma (Eliza Scanlen - Home and Away), who she didn't even recognize at first and seems to be a completely different person depending on where she is.

Adora is not thrilled by Camille's visit and she continuously oscillates between the mother she wants to be and her rejection of her oldest daughter. She reluctantly lets her stay at home but she's not happy about the job she's there to do and asks they don't discuss the matter. She's a dramatic woman with a nervous tick where she pulls out her eyelashes. And I'm sorry to say I wasn't sold on Clarkson's interpretation, she seems to be overperforming and even the smallest details are too over the top.

"When a child knows that young that her mother doesn't care for her, bad things happen."

She tries to settle down in her room but the ghost of a little sister, Marian, keeps haunting her. The scene on the porch was heartbreaking and then when they passed the little girl quietly sitting there it was so creepy you'd think this is a horror show. She decides to go out for a drink to shake it off, she crosses paths with Willis who seems to be bored with Wind Gap people and wants to spend time with her without being quoted on her story, but she won't budge.

The next day she interviews Ann Nash's father, Bob Nash (Will Chase - Nashville, Smash), who's heartbroken and overwhelmed by trying to take care of the rest of the children on his own since his wife is MIA. Will killed it here, when he's getting angry and Camille asks him if he got to see her that morning he stops on his tracks and he looks dumbfounded, vulnerable, broken. Seems like no one had asked him that before. He tells her they let Ann ride her bike ten blocks to a friend's house and somewhere along the way she was taken. In the books, Camille thinks the quotes were good but overpolished, something she finds often with people who watch too much TV. He tells her a story and says Ann was a willful little thing.

"She gave him hell."

Later she's visiting the square monument where people leave things for both girls, when they hear a woman screaming and they find Natalie's body, the scene is gruesome, her teeth are missing and she's propped up like a doll. Her older brother, John Keene, seems to stay behind though, perhaps in shock or just avoiding confirmation. At the station, Willis tries to be nice to her but she pushes him away, as she does her shocked state.

When she gets back home, she meets for the first time Amma's home persona, just a sweet little girl desperate for a sister, she even shows her a carefully built dollhouse and says creepily they're very similar. She admits to living under Marian's shadow and says she's incorrigible deep down, as was Camille and apparently the two murdered little girls.

"It's impossible to compete with the dead. I wished I could stop trying."

This show is shaping up to be one of the best ones in TV history, and I say that as someone who knows where the story is going, the way they're portraying it is enough to know it will be amazing. The writing, directing, performances, they're all absolute perfection. Every interaction here is brilliant, not only the great delivery of dialogue or the quiet moments, but the looks they give each other, the tone, it leaves you with a sinking feeling, that you're not sure you want to go deeper into this abyss and yet you might not be able to stop yourself from wanting to know where this goes.

Full disclosure, I have read the book so I will not be engaging in theories as to not spoil anything. But be my guest and debate among yourselves and I will answer anything I consider not to be too spoilery. Also, most of the quotes here belong to the book, they're not spoken but they are very much in the fabric of the show and perhaps offer some insight into the story and its characters.

"Sometimes it is all too loud."

What did you think about Sharp Objects? Will you continue watching? Do you have any theories? Let me know in the comments.

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