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Sharp Objects (Blu-ray Review)

Gillian Flynn’s written work came to light and broke out when David Fincher adapted her novel Gone Girl, which opened to major success back in 2014. The Rosamund Pike/Ben Affleck/Carrie Coon thriller was THE adults get a babysitter flavor of the season. Now, HBO has taken another of her works, the novel Sharp Objects, and turned it into a mini-series starring Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson. The series ran to great acclaim back in the summer of 2018. You can bring home Sharp Objects today as the eight-episode limited series is now available for Digital Download, and  Blu-ray™ and DVD (It released November 27th of 2018, but we are a bit behind on it). The “haunting and riveting” (The Hollywood Reporter) series is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (HBO’s “Big Little Lies”) and created by Marti Noxon (“Dietland”). The Digital Download, Blu-ray™ and DVD will include an exclusive*, never-before-seen feature showcasing the creation of the fictional town of Wind Gap.

Series 

Crime reporter Camille Preaker, suffering from alcoholism and recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital after years of self-harming, returns to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri, to investigate the murders of two young girls. The assignment takes her back to her childhood home under the critical eye of her mother, Adora, a small-town socialite, which forces Preaker to confront some personal demons.

Sharp Objects is a very nice small-town murder mystery series with its own unique attitude that really sets it apart from the many other kinds of shows like it. Yes, its easy to point to it being one of those Twin Peaks/True Detective series, but luckily this one feels like it would’ve existed regardless of those. The vibe, characters and story all feel of its own and the fact that it would be categorized with those series is just purely coincidental and the nature of the “must put it with something” kind of pitch meeting beast. Aside from murders in a small town with odd peoples populating it, there really aren’t much other similarities.  It doesn’t want to strive or be its brethren, it just wants to Sharp Objects.

The biggest takeaway from the series has to be the very precise and genius editing on display throughout every episode. Its quite masterful and is the reason the storytelling here works so well. There are scenes that are completed quite seamlessly that manage to weave and wobble between multiple points in time for Amy Adams’ Camille Preaker and somehow you’re never lost upon it. You’ll be filled in about her past, understand where she’s at in the present and also possibly grab a clue to the murders happening in Wind Gap. There are moments, movements, exchanges and more that will happen like they were meant to be pieced together. Its so well done that everything feels like one consistent movement, yet these come from completely different shooting schedules with different casts/lighting/interiors and the like. Its a symphony of cuts and splices (Well, cuts and pastes in this day and age) that harmonize with one another in the most impressive fashion.

Amy Adams never fails to impress with her performances, Sharp Objects obviously is no different. Camille Preaker is quite the damaged individual and having to relive the past we see here constantly trying to drown out with alcohol or self mutilation. Usually, shows and films try and depict this as a hard thing to do on ones’ self. But here, her drinking and cutting of her body isn’t present in a positive light, but its portrayed here as normal for her. She acts upon these crutches the same way a person would get up and make coffee every morning or picks that scab they probably shouldn’t. Its only when Camille is present with someone else with a similar issue that she thinks differently about it. But its in a sort of motherly fashion and very much a “Hey, I do this, you shouldn’t” kind of way. One thing I also enjoy is that they show she isn’t just completely down on herself and in the dumps all the time. There are people and journalism aspects that really help her out and show a sense of accomplishment and happiness throughout.

Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects is a murder mystery and character study with a nice blend of avant garde storytelling to give it a unique flavor all its own. The town of Wind Gap is portrayed in an honest fashion and the series never really tries to crib from anything else, be it story points, character traits or stylistic creative decisions. Yes, there are things like Sharp Objects, but that is merely incidental. One interesting bit was how patient the investigation seemed to be, even when more bodies turned up. Granted, the town’s sheriff likes it that way, but there’s a real point of making sure the right people get information, really interrogate people properly and have all their findings together before making a drastic action. The series has itself plenty of rewatch value as well. I don’t think its going to present anything new on future viewings, but its an interesting watch enough and it’ll tell you that right from the first scene.

Episodes

Vanish

Dirt

Fix

Ripe

Closer

Cherry

Falling

Milk

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Sharp Objects was shot digitally and likely finished with a 2K digital intermediate. Its transfer to Blu-ray is a really sharp and crisp picture. The natural look also carries a lot of finer detail. It can both present itself as dingy and gritty, but also bright and full at the same time. Nature gives both a beautiful appearance and a barren one. Its quite a fun back and forth that keeps the picture interesting at any time.

Depth:  Featuring a terrific depth of field, many of the panning and moving camera shots are very smooth and confident. Most of the feature has a good pushback feel and its displayed through a lot of sequences that have an intentionally blurred out figure or room in the background. No blur or jitter motion issues occur.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep and in night sequences, quite consuming. Detail is only lost where intended. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors come pretty natural in this town and the overall feeling is that its pretty warm there in Wind Gap. Greens and reds feel a nice bold bump off the screen (That caboose in a drive-by sequence is particularly rich).

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Detail and texture is quite crisp and well visible from most given distances. Particularly impressive are the scars on Amy Adams’ body. Her freckles are discernible and the makeup effects look lifelike on them all.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 DTS, Spanish 5.1 DTS, Spanish 2.0 DTS,

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: Sharp Objects isn’t a program that’s too demanding of your surround sound, but it does well enough without going overboard just to prove it can use it. There’s a nice balance of music, vocals and sound effects that never walks on top of one one another. It also hands jumping back and forth from quick flashbacks quite well while keeping a nice consistency in the soundscape hanging over everything.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Music and soundscapes provide most of the bump, some effects, trains moving and other natural sounds utilize the subwoofer well enough.

Surround Sound Presentation: The 5 channel mix does offer up some good ambiance during the right times with the rear speakers. They do contribute to a couple moments of motion working its way away from the front. Overall, this hangs out in the three channels and does the job with accuracy in terms of volume and travel.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras 

Sharp Objects is a 2-Blu-ray Disc set and comes with a digital copy of every episode. The Blu-ray release features 1 short featurette, while the digital copy unlocks more bonus materials.

Disc 2

Creating Wind Gap (HD, 5:10) – A quick little overview at the town and its people at the center of the miniseries.

Digital Only

Trailer (HD, :32)

Introducing Camille Preaker (HD, 1:02) – Amy Adams opens up about her character Camille Preaker.

Introducing Amma Crellin (HD, 1:03) – Actress Eliza Scanlen talks about the complexities of her character Amma Crellin.

Introducing Adora Crellin (HD, 1:09) – Patricia Clarkson talks about playing one of the juiciest roles of her illustrious career: Adora Crellin.

Inside The Mind Of Gillian Flynn (HD, 1:57) – Learn how ‘Sharp Objects’ was brought from the novel to the screen with writer Gillian Flynn, star Amy Adams, director Jean-Marc Vallee and show runner Marti Noxon.

Wind Gap: A Fictional History (HD, 1:17) – Director Jean-Marc Vallee and executive producer Marti Noxon for this look at the staging of ‘Calhoun Day’ in the series.

Summary 

Sharp Objects is another fascinating mini-series from HBO in the wake of things like True Detective and The Night Of. It comes to Blu-ray with a very good presentation in both audio and video. The disheartening thing is the lack of bonus material and decision to put most of it as a digital exclusive. Altogether there is less than 20 minutes worth, it should have gone on the disc. Said bonus is also random EPK type stuff too. It would be nice is some commentaries were available, but with HBO, if you’re not Game of Thrones, it appears you’re not getting bonus material attention nowadays. When the price goes down on this, definitely pick it up.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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