In 1998, elderly couple William and Patricia Wycherley were shot dead and buried in their back garden. Not the obvious premise for a comedy, but true crime has been reimagined like never before in Olivia Colman’s intriguing Landscapers.
Inspired by disturbing real events, Sky Atlantic’s black comedy follows mild-mannered Susan and Christopher Edwards, the unlikely fugitives on the run for murder in a crime which has remained a mystery for two decades.
Patricia and Williams’ neighbours believed they’d abandoned their dreary village near Mansfield when actually they were six feet under in the back yard, with the remains only being discovered when their daughter and her husband turned themselves into police.
In 2014, Edward and Susan were eventually sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison and to this day maintain their innocence.
Landscapers, written by Colman’s husband Ed Sinclair, is the most imaginative account of truly one of the bleakest British crimes, blending theatre, high budget police drama and black comedy into an unlikely cocktail which somehow feels seamless.
Susan and Edward’s nail-biting Line of Duty scale interrogations will take a turn as DC Emma Lancing (Kate O’Flynn) takes viewers on a guided tour around the Landscapers set, jumping into to a dramatization of William and Patricia’s murder.
The lines are constantly blurred between what could be real, Edward and Susan’s warped accounts or just director Will Sharpe’s spectacular creative license, making for at times a beautiful, albeit constantly unnerving, trip.
Colman stars as Susan, who gets lost dreaming of classic Hollywood stars and their movies. She’s delicate, well-manned, unnervingly timid and, at least appears to be, naive to the enormity of the dire circumstances she’s landed her and her husband in. David Thewliss is both charming and eerie as Susan fiercely loyal husband Edward, their tortured and isolated relationship making for one of the most endearing romances imaginable.
In turn, when Landscapers gets tough it’s genuinely painful. Susan and Edward are separated for the first time in their marriage, totally lost without the other, their agony and grief facing the rest of their lives apart is devastating.
Against Susan and Edward’s gentle nature is a police force determined to put them behind bars. DC Emma Lancing is ruthless, unforgiving and the balance between her ferocity and the Edwards’ helpless case makes for a painful battle that only one side can win.
True crime reimagined is murky ground to cover. Often it feels needless, tacky or exploitative, Landscapers manages to avoid all three, neither claiming to own a truth or pushing an agenda.
By its nature, it’s uncomfortable, akin to the bleak comedy of League of Gentleman or Inside no. 9 but of course with real people at its centre. Though, Landscapers always remains dignified and respectful which ultimately boils down to taste.
Landscapers really is special, a truly unique take on an awful tragedy which shouldn’t lend itself to a comedy but has quite remarkably managed to do just that by being kind, poignant and unbeatably romantic.
At its core is a murder but ultimately Landscapers is driven by Susan and Christopher’s love story, told with unmissable performances across the board.
Credit: Original article published here.