Acclaimed director Jean-Marc Vallée has had his fair share of successes in his career and you can count Sharp Objects, his latest effort as one of them. The Canadian film director, producer and film editor has honed his talents on the HBO Original, which is adapted from Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel.
Although focusing mostly on film with critically-acclaimed productions such as Black List (1995), Dallas Buyers Club (2013) and Wild (2014), Vallée has also had his fair share of small screen projects like HBO’s Big Little Lies, which earned him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special. There’s a good chance he’ll follow up with another for his work on Sharp Objects too…
What did you think when you were approached about doing an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s book?
It’s Tennessee William on acid, on steroids, on LSD. And, this world she had created and this character, Camille, that Amy (Adams) has portrayed, I’ve never read, seen, heard, met, anyone like this. That’s why I was scared, you know, to accompany Amy on this.
How would you describe this show? There are elements of gothic horror, thriller…
So we’ve got this investigation, a murder mystery – who the hell is doing this to little girls. And we got this other mystery – this woman is a mystery. What happened to you? Why are you doing this? Why do you act this way? You’re doing great things. I love the way you think and you talk. Your use of words, to heal and then to harm. These two things in the same project were something. This is something.
Camille’s internal voice is a huge part of the book. How difficult was that to try to bring to life on screen?
Well, the writers decided not to use a voiceover. I was like, what?! When I read the book, I went, alright. Then I started to get the scripts, and I went, uh, where’s the voiceover? Listen, guys, this is why I love the book. I want to hear this girl talk. The way she talks about herself and the world. Where is it? Of course they used the main quality of her thoughts, and put them through dialogues and her actions, but, I was like, this is suicide. But then we found this device, that the voiceover will become a visual voiceover. Let’s get into her head. So let’s see how she thinks.
The other thing that is very noticeable is the very definite sense of place. Do you think this story could have been told anywhere else?
No, it’s in between the Midwest and the south, but it’s closer to south and it is very warm and the culture is southern. This place is so unique and this is so Gillian. She’s from there, too, so she talked about something she knew and that’s why it feels so real and authentic. And Gillian is a mother of two kids and she’s so sweet, and then she writes these stories, Gone Girl and this one, and you go, wait!. I’m curious to know more about her. And I wonder, is there some stuff she doesn’t talk about, like where does it come from? I’d like to believe it is imagination, because this is too, too weird and dark to be real.
Would you say this is a show to which people need to pay attention? Not to be scrolling through Instagram while they watch?
Yeah. If you blink sometimes, or if you watch it and you are eating, you will miss things.
Sharp Objects debuts same time as the U.S. on Monday, July 9 at 9am on HBO (Astro Ch 411 / 431 HD). New episodes of this 8-episode limited series premiere every Monday at 9am and encores on the same day at 10pm on HBO. Catch up on past episodes anytime on HBO On Demand (via Astro GO.