Patricia Clarkson (L) and Amy Adams in Sharp Objects Image: Twitter
The last time a Gillian Flynn novel came to life, it left Hollywood very unsettled. The Academy Award nominated-Gone Girl (2014) did some much-needed damage to the relaxed myth of the cruel woman.
Sharp Objects, written six years prior to Gone Girl, is getting an HBO limited edition treatment, starring Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson. In other words, Emmy bait.
Sharp Objects was Flynn's first novel, and in many ways, the origin of the mean woman narrative the writer has been working on.
And most importantly, it talks about women who make you nervous.
The show, which just released its first episode, is being touted as the next Big Little Lies, but it is clearly a lot more brutal than its HBO sister.
Sharp Objects, based on the story of a crime reporter who has recently been discharged from psychiatric hold after years of self-harming, stars five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams as Camille. She returns to Missouri to investigate the murder of two young girls and sets up the pace for what is without a doubt, the darkest homecoming tale on TV right now.
“You have to realise this is a cyclical trauma, this generational trauma and pain that has led to three incredibly damaged women — a mother and two daughters," says Clarkson, who plays Adora, a small-town socialite, whose relationship with Camille forms the crux of the show.
The novel's gothic tone was much-talked-about when it came out 12 years ago, and judging by the trailer, the show is making the most of its ill-lit suburbia theme.
The show is about a woman who used to cut herself and used alcohol as a means of escape, and Adams opened up about her rendition. "When she’s doing that, that’s a relief, her relief. She’s trying not to do it, because she’s trying to be healthy, but when she pokes herself, it’s a relief, you know? It’s a temptation. It’s enticing — which is why she ends up drinking so much," the actor told Entertainment Weekly.
She also added that as part of her research, she read the book A Bright Red Scream, by journalist Marilee Strong, which delves into the concept of self-harm. "I read about people’s emotional release that comes with the cutting. It’s a very complicated issue, and if anyone’s curious, I highly recommend that book," added Adams.
Flynn revealed recently that the marks on Camille's body are manifestations of her emotional scars, and she is vastly different than just a murder mystery protagonist.
"The reason I wrote about the scars, about Camille writing on her skin, was because I felt that misery of, like, 'Why can’t anyone see how much pain I’m in?' I wished I could bear witness somehow," Flynn told The Hollywood Reporter.
You'll notice that for the most part of the show, Camille is seen in long-sleeved shirts and full trousers, despite the ghastly Missouri heat. Which is, of course, a way of hiding her scars.
“Books about how female violence is passed down from generation to generation didn’t exist. Books about generations of male violence, those are called Great American Novels," added Flynn.
The generational narrative is what makes Sharp Objects so intriguing. Camille's relationship with her estranged mother Adora is one of the darkest aspects of the show, and both Clarkson and Adams agree. "She doesn't really care for me," Adams said of her on-screen mother.
"This (Adora) is a brutal woman, make no mistake, and I knew it from the get-go that I had to be strong enough to really just not care about what people thought about me. Camille has forsaken her in many, many, many, many ways and abandoned her and moved on and refused to be a part of her life," Clarkson added.
The first episode of the show titled Vanish is already garnering incredible reviews. "My aunt asked me what Sharp Objects is about and I said 'it’s about Amy Adams getting an Emmy'," wrote a Tweeter.
"It's hard to watch a Dead Girl narrative that actually gives voice to women's trauma. It isn't pretty. It's messy, and unflattering. But that's the point," writes critic Jess Joho in Mashable.