Sunday, 16 September 2018

Three Women

If you haven’t the series and don’t want to know anything about the story, you have been warned, spoilers ahead.


When there is a murder mystery to be solved at the heart of a character story and everyone just assumes it’s a man from the get go, you automatically know it’ll be a woman as the main assailant. But what Sharp Objects cleverly does is divert the viewers’ attention to make you doubt this ‘murder mystery’ rule. The distraction comes in the form of characters that are bold and beautiful. The story becomes about the characters that inhabit the story making you forget the reason for the whole series. They are damaged, full of secrets that will have you guessing until the end, they are in pain but hope for a better life. They want answers of their own but they have to suffer to get them. The characters that inhabit the world of ‘Sharp Objects’ are all internal, emotional or physical anguish. 

Unlike other ‘murder mystery’ stories, there is no comforting resolution. There is closure, for the main character and for the case itself but not in the conventional sense. The case is closed as the murderer is caught and captured but a sudden and devastating twisted reveal is shown at the very end of the last episode. For those who didn’t read the book, this comes as a shocking surprise in the way the real killer is shown in jittering and violent camera shots. The show has had its disturbing elements but nothing is more disturbing than the end scene and the mid credits scene. The viewer is left with a bad taste in their mouth, at least, I was. 

The series has been compared to books by V. C. Andrews, maybe for its melodramatic family dynamics and the focus of a wealthy family with disturbing secrets. The show’s fuel is secrets, some we never really see the full picture of either. Past events are hinted at, sentences interrupted, glances across a room, hazy flashbacks where we the viewers are left to decide what really happened. These moments and scenes aren’t really part of the main narrative, they are there as background information so we can understand the town and Camille’s past, piecing together why she acts the way she is. One of the main reasons is her mother, Adora. Overbearing, uncaring, selfish and arrogant, but softly spoken and manipulative, Adora likes to believe she is higher and more important than anyone else because she is wealthy and in her mind, is regale and deserves to be admired. Her treatment of Camille is hostile but because she is quiet and cunning, she doesn’t immediately come across as terrible person, creating an illusion that she is reasonable. Amma, Camille’s half sister is an enigma throughout the story. She seems assured of herself, claiming she can get boys and girls to do what she wants, confidently starting arguments and flirting with older men. She is also vulnerable, being scared of her mother at the same time craving attention. From each episode Amma’s unstable persona is at first confusing but later starts to become disturbing. The town’s people say, there is something off with those Preaker girls and there is. Camille being at the center of the story is more obvious about her pain and dysfunctions. She drinks and hides evidence; she is suffering from long seated trauma, yet no one can determine how to help her. She is scarred, inside and outside but again, she doesn’t get the help she needs. Only her friend and editor want to help. Her return to her hometown of Wind Gap is meant to be her chance for closure as well as to get a story about the murders. At the end of the last episode it feels that she is finally able to achieve both a satisfying close to her past and continue her life, living with Amma but the cruel twist at the end doesn’t bode well for Camille. It seems that she’ll never be at peace. 

Throughout the story, hints at the secrets and past turmoil are shown but there is a constant feeling of unease, even at the end when the case is closed. The feeling of dread never goes away. There is a dizzying sick feeling when Adora is revealed to have poisoned Camille’s younger sister and actually the cause of her death. The suspicion that Adora may actually also be responsible for the two murders is pushed to the side while Camille and Amma fight for their lives as they are spoon fed poison every hour. This is Adora’s way of showing affection, keeping her daughters close and weak so she can ‘take care’ of them. But when the sisters are rescued, Adora is arrested; the continued feeling of dread never goes away. For me, this was because I didn’t think Adora killed the two other girls, Ann and Natalie but distracted by Camille moving on with her life I didn’t seem to care. Adora had always appeared as odd and cold, it was good to see a villain caught. But when Camille finds the teeth of the wind Gap victims in Amma’s creepy dollhouse, the cold sweat of dread crept back. Amma is confirmed as the murderer, along with the assistance of her roller skating friends, in quick violent cuts. It’s disturbing but yet it’s a brilliant way to end the slow burner of series. It’s a murder mystery I won’t let go of in a hurry, hence why I’m writing about it weeks after its finished.

Having not watch that many shows on TV lately (I’ve been stuck to Netflix for months), ‘Sharp Objects’ had my attention, right down to the teeth tiled floor in that hideous dollhouse. My guess is that, it’ll be a while before a story like this has me hooked for a while.