When convicted murderers Christopher and Susan Edwards turned themselves in to police at London St Pancras International Station in 2013, they were carrying a single euro, a change of clothes each and a bag of Hollywood memorabilia with them, including letters, posters and a signed photo of Gary Cooper. After 15 years of deception, the couple reached the end of the road. They were finally ready to discuss the circumstances that led to Susan’s parents being shot dead and buried under the rhododendrons in their garden in the East Midlands town of Mansfield, and their bank accounts emptied.
Landscapers, a wildly inventive mini-series starring Olivia Colman and David Thewlis, tells their story, though it is not your regular police procedure. It’s a tender tale of love, a black comedy and a surrealistic fantasy rolled together. Directed by Will Sharpe and written by Colman’s husband Ed Sinclair, it plays fast and loose with the facts and does not apologize for it, but rather offers different perspectives on the truth as devised by those who are at the heart of the matter.
When we meet the couple, they are on their backs in France. Christopher is on his so many job interviews, where his co-applicants are 25 years younger and, unlike him, fluent in French. Dinner is a single-baked potato each, and wine glasses filled with water. Yet the daily life of this quiet couple is full of love as they eat their meager dinners by candlelight and hold hands on the couch.
While we get photos from the investigation, Landscapers are more interested in the story the Edwards are telling, and the efforts they are making to protect each other. The most surprising – and absolutely delightful – are the moments when the series completely breaks with reality, the couple in the classic movies they are obsessed with parachuting or, during police interrogations, taking them off the set and into scenes from their past. kaleidoscopic reconstructions step. . Think Crimewatch converted into a promenade theater.
The writers enjoy the politeness of these benevolent killers. As Susan hands her breakfast tray to an officer in her police cell, she says sincerely, “Scrambled eggs, is it not easy to do in bulk?” Understandably, the police are less fascinated by their new charges than we are. The story that the couple tells – that Susan’s mother shot her husband, after which Susan shot her mother, hid both their bodies under the bed and then returned to bury them with her husband – is unanimous, by officials, declared as “bullshit”. .
Turning a story of actual murder into entertainment can be a dangerous business, more so when the creators refuse to tell it straight. But Landscapers was made with love and ambition, not purity or snares. Rather than recounting horrific events, it deepens us into the lives of two complex people who, as Christopher’s stepmother points out, were not built for this world. Driven by remarkable performances by Colman and Thewlis that will surely reward them with awards, it is at once funny, gloomy and tremendously moving. I’ll take over another remake of the Ted Bundy story this one day.
On Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the UK from December 7 and now on HBO Max in the US
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