2021 is not over yet with exemplary dramas with Landscapers one of the best acting masterclasses of the year.
The 4-part British drama is based on incidents in 2014, when husband and wife Susan and Christopher Edwards were arrested over the discovery of two dead bodies in the courtyard of their former home.
It was a secret they had kept for 15 years.
In key roles are Olivia Colman and David Thewlis, as a mild-mannered couple we meet living destitute in Paris when the miniseries opens.
Christopher (Thewlis) struggles to find a job, largely due to the language barrier, while Susan (Colman) delves into her love of Golden Era Hollywood movies, from Gene Kelly to Gary Cooper. Gerard Depardieu also looms large, in ways I won’t spoil…
But when Christopher confides their secret to his stepmother while asking for financial assistance, she turns to the British police, setting off a chain of events that will lead to their arrest.
While Christopher worries about protecting their marriage, Susan is seemingly blind to the ramifications of their circumstance, at one point describing her to her lawyer Douglas Hylton (Dipo Ola) as “a bit of a pickle.”
Lost in old Hollywood westerns and hoarding expensive memorabilia, Susan “sees beauty where there isn’t much,” says Christopher. Her love for her and her devotion to his wife know no bounds, but it could be her undoing.
“I can’t let Susan down. She is very fragile,” she says.
Leading the investigation are bickering cops, DC Emma Lancing (Kate O’Flynn) and DC Paul Wilkie (Samuel Anderson), adding to the dark humor of this tale from writer Ed Sinclair. They’re acting on a tip, but know they have to build a solid case, especially if they are to extradite the couple from France.
Colman and Thewlis are quite magnificent in their roles as a devoted suburban couple who could very well be monsters inside. Subsequent episodes contain breathtaking tour de force scenes that are sure to garner award nominations.
However, director Will Sharpe also brings superb imagination and stylistic choices to the work. Not just playing with time, he blurs the lines between Hollywood/Britain, naturalistic/unconventional, colour/black and white and even the filmmaking process itself.
Suffice to say, there hasn’t been anything like it in a long time.
Landscapers show Wednesdays on Stan.