Review: ‘Landscapers’ Is Not Your Typical True-Crime Love Story


Ed Sinclair, a first-time screenwriter, and the director Will Sharpe build their four-episode series around that detail, in imaginative and highly stylized ways that shift the focus away from true-crime investigation. “Landscapers” recounts the case, but the crime is one element in Susan and Chris’s love story, a star-crossed tale of two damaged people constructing a world in which they can survive, at least until the money runs out.

This involves a wide range of filmmaking tricks. Sharpe shoots some scenes as keyholes in a black screen, as if we’re watching a play. Others he stages like full-on Hollywood productions, echoing the films Susan loves, like “High Noon” and “The Last Metro.” (Gary Cooper and Gérard Depardieu are significant, if imaginary, figures in the story.) At key moments Sharpe literally breaks the fourth wall, pulling back the camera to show us the soundstage as the actors, in and out of character, walk from one set to another.

In the hands of the gifted Sharpe, who directed the series “Flowers,” starring Colman, and the feature “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain” (with Benedict Cumberbatch), these interventions are mostly engaging rather than distracting. They set up a theme of artifice and delusion, but “Landscapers,” thankfully, isn’t about the tyranny of modern media — it’s more about the ways in which ordinary, troubled people make sense of their lives by casting themselves in the stories of heroism and self-sacrifice that they’ve seen at the movies. The show doesn’t have to take a position on whether the Edwardses were telling the truth about what happened in the real world, because it lives inside the reality they constructed.

If “Landscapers” doesn’t, in the end, entirely fulfill the promise of Sharpe’s visual wizardry, it’s down to the screenplay by Sinclair, who is also Colman’s husband and producing partner. It doesn’t match the inventiveness of the direction, and it’s also more murky (and sentimental) than it needs to be about Susan’s true nature, which slightly dampens Colman’s performance. She spends most of the series playing things down the middle, and she’s only able to break out her fierce, splendid technique in a few scenes.



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