Aspiring screenwriter Ed Sinclair and director Will Sharp build their four-episode series around this detail in creative and highly stylized ways that shift the focus away from real crime. Landscaping is about this incident, but crime is part of Susan and Chris’s love story, a star-crossed story of two injured people creating a world in which they can survive, at least until run out of money.
This includes a wide variety of filmmaking techniques. Sharpe shoots some of the scenes like keyholes on a black screen, as if we are watching a play. Others he choreographs as full-length Hollywood productions, echoing Susan’s favorite films such as High Noon and The Last Subway. (Gary Cooper and Gerard Depardieu are important, albeit fictional, figures in the story.) At key moments, Sharpe literally breaks down the fourth wall, moving the camera away to show us a soundstage in which actors, both in and out of characters, step out of install one on the other.
In the hands of the talented Sharpe, who directed the series Flowers, starring Colman, and the feature film The Electric Life of Louis Wayne (starring Benedict Cumberbatch), these interventions are mostly engaging rather than distracting. They create a theme of gimmick and fallacy, but Landscape Designers is thankfully not about the tyranny of modern media – it’s more about how ordinary, anxious people make sense of their lives, immersed in stories about people. heroism and self-sacrifice that they saw in the films. The show doesn’t have to take a position as to whether the Edwards were telling the truth about what happened in the real world, because it lives within the reality they’ve built.
If Landscape Designers ends up not fully delivering on Sharpe’s promise of visual wizardry, it’s a script by Sinclair, who is also Coleman’s husband and production partner. It doesn’t match the director’s ingenuity, and it is also darker (and more sentimental) than it should be about Susan’s true nature, which slightly diminishes Coleman’s performance. She spends most of the series playing something in between, and only manages to reveal her brutal, gorgeous technique in just a few scenes.