Review: "Paysagistes" is not your typical true crime love story

Rookie screenwriter Ed Sinclair and director Will Sharpe build their four-part series around that detail, in imaginative, highly stylized...


Rookie screenwriter Ed Sinclair and director Will Sharpe build their four-part series around that detail, in imaginative, highly stylized ways that distract from investigating real crimes. “Landscapers” tells the story, but the crime is part of Susan and Chris’ love story, a cursed tale of two damaged people building a world in which they can survive, at least until the money is running out.

It involves a wide array of movie making tips. Sharpe shoots some scenes like keyholes in a black screen, like we’re watching a play. Others he stages as full-fledged Hollywood productions, echoing films Susan loves, such as “High Noon” and “The Last Metro”. (Gary Cooper and GĂ©rard Depardieu are significant, albeit imaginary, characters in the story.) At key points, Sharpe literally breaks the fourth wall, pulling the camera back to show us the soundstage as the actors, in and out of the character, walk from one set to another.

In the hands of the talented Sharpe, who led the “Flowers” series, with Colman, and the feature film “The Electric Life of Louis Wain” (with Benedict Cumberbatch), these interventions are for the most part engaging rather than distracting. They set up a theme of artifice and illusion, but “Paysagistes”, fortunately, is not about the tyranny of modern media – rather it is about how ordinary and troubled people make sense of their story. life by immersing themselves in the stories of heroism and self-denial that they saw in the movies. The show doesn’t have to take a stand on whether the Edwards were telling the truth about what happened in the real world, because it lives inside the reality they built.

If “Landscapers” ultimately doesn’t fully deliver on Sharpe’s promise of visual magic, it’s thanks to the script of Sinclair, who is also Colman’s husband and production partner. It doesn’t match the inventiveness of the directing, and it’s also murkier (and sentimental) than it should be about Susan’s true nature, which dampens Colman’s performance slightly. She spends most of the series playing things in the middle, and she is only able to bring out her fierce and splendid technique in a few scenes.

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