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Landscapers: Olivia Colman’s dark delight of a true crime drama headed for SoHo


REVIEW: They’d gotten away with murder – until the cash ran out.

For 15 years, Susan (Olivia Colman) and Christopher Edwards (David Thewlis) had lived out a seemingly happy life together in Lille, France, far away from the potential trouble they’d left behind in Mansfield.

But Susan’s extravagant purchases of movie memorabilia, coupled with a rising tide of overdue accounts and Christopher’s inability to find a suitably paying job (his lack of French a particular hindrance to that endeavour), had placed them in a desperate situation.

Cue a phone call to his stepmother, where he just happens to let slip the reason for their prolonged exile. However, instead of just wiring the money, she conveys the contents of their conversation to her local constabulary, who discover two decomposed bodies, and then, thanks to Christopher’s less-than-covert contact methods, reach out to the Edwards. To the officials’ surprise, they not only receive a polite letter providing a “vague proclamation of innocence”, but also an offer from the couple to surrender themselves for questioning at St. Pancras, if someone can pay for the Eurostar tickets.

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Based on scarcely believable, real-life events, beautifully summarised at the end of its first of four episodes, Landscapers (which debuts on SoHo at 8.30pm on Wednesday, January 12) is a terrific black comedy that’s a perfect showcase for the unbelievably talented Colman.

Susan Edwards is yet another of her multi-dimensional, complicated characters, a nervy bundle of energy and indefatigable optimism (and some would say delusion), despite she and Thewlis’ (Harry Potter’s Lupin) avuncular Christopher getting themselves “into a bit of a pickle” and “a sticky patch”.

Olivia Colman plays Susan Edwards in Landscapers

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Olivia Colman plays Susan Edwards in Landscapers

Colman’s husband, Ed Sinclair, with his first major screenplay, has done her proud, offering her plenty of chances to demonstrate both her adroit comedic timing, as well as more poignant and emotional moments.

The entertaining quirks aren’t just limited to the central couple either. Detective Chief Inspector Tony Collier (Daniel Rigby) takes every opportunity to stuff his face while grumpily, begrudgingly agreeing to the pair’s “conditions”.

Landscapers is based on scarcely believable, real-life events.

Supplied

Landscapers is based on scarcely believable, real-life events.

As he proved with recent feature The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Will Sharpe has an eye for the surreal and subversive and an ear for sharp, witty dialogue, and he brings both skills to the party here.

Susan’s western-inspired fantasies are brilliantly brought to life in black-and-white as kind of Heavenly Creatures-esque fever dreams, while there’s a deadpan vibe to the entire endeavour which just feels right, despite the rather troubling nature of the Edwards’ deeds.

Truly, Landscapers is a dark delight.

New episodes of Landscapers debut on Wednesday nights at 8.30pm on SoHo from January 12.



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