Landscapers is the ultimate true-crime murder mystery show
The mini-series is available to watch at home this week.
When it comes to true-crime series, we know how it goes by now. Thanks to the documentaries series (usually on Netflix) or the re-enacted dramatic mini-series (more likely to be found on BBC or Channel 4), there is usually a pattern to how they play out.
Lots of setting the table, keeping vital pieces of information from the viewers from as long as possible, to keep the mystery of the crime and its perpetrators going for as long as possible.
Seemingly very aware of this, that isn't the case at all with Landscapers, which introduces us to the criminals almost immediately. Susan (Olivia Colman) and Christopher Edwards (David Thewlis) are living a seemingly idyllic life in France, but due to financial issues, they decide to return to England.
Immediately, they are arrested for the double murder of Susan's parents, an event that took place 15 years earlier, their bodies exhumed from their back garden.
It seems impossible that these two could have committed such a heinous crime, as they're presented to us as such a lovely, loving, quiet couple, far too meek to hurt a fly, let alone kill members of their own family in cold blood.
But then the layers begin to fall away, the presentation of Susan and Christopher is how Susan and Christopher see themselves, not necessarily how the world sees them. Susan has an obsession with old school Hollywood, picturing Christopher as a classic cowboy, and herself his damsel-in-distress.
But the reality is much starker, and the show's writer Ed Sinclair and director Will Sharpe have a huge amount of fun with that dichotomy, splitting between a version of the story that plays out how Susan and Christopher think it should be, and the version that probably clings closer to reality.
We had an opportunity to chat to Olivia Colman and David Thewlis about this idea of the difficulties of playing these variations of the same person, and you can check out that interview in full right here:
Throughout the three episodes of the show shown to press ahead of release, the person who keeps coming to mind is Charlie Kaufman. The genius screenwriter of Adaptation, Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was similarly adept at playing with the fourth wall, teaming with directors who were capable of firing on all visual cylinders in order to accurately get across his ideas.
That applies here too, with Sinclair and Sharpe teaming up for an eye-popping, mind-melting rollercoaster, utilising Colman and Thewlis' abilities to flit between adorable and terrifying in the blink of an eye.
Over the end credits of each episode, we get news reels of the actual discovery of the bodies and coverage of the case against the Edwards, presenting yet another layer of representation. Sick psychopaths, misunderstood gentle souls with their backs against the wall, master manipulators, or a mix of all three?
There are no easy answers, but this mini-series has a hell of a time letting you make up your own mind.
All four episodes of Landscapers will be available to watch on Sky Atlantic and NOW from Tuesday, 7 December.
Clip via Sky TV