Entertainment » Television


by Michael  Cox
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jul 10, 2018

Steven Soderbergh stays on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to motion picture storytelling. So it wasn't particularly surprising when he announced his latest project to be a mobile app called "Mosaic." The app works as an interactive movie. Though users can't affect the plot, they navigate the order in which they receive information. Since "Mosaic" is a murder mystery, this type of user experience allows the viewer to play detective.

This ability to freeform explore a story also gave users the opportunity to miss important information, and most users seemed to prefer a more concise sequence of event and tighter directorial vision. HBO has solved the problem by releasing the content as a 6 part television series - it's all the same material without the "choose your own adventure" feature.

In many ways, the spirit of the app is still present in this TV series. There are multiple perspectives, dangling clues, mysterious red herrings; even the final solution is uncomfortable. Justice is served - but is it served correctly? As in life, we are left with more questions than answers.

Illustrator Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone) made her name and her fortune on one somewhat gimmicky children's book. Now she spends her time running a nonprofit, throwing parties for her rich friends and seducing naïve young men like the idealistic aspiring artist Joel Hurley (Garrett Hedlund). When she hires him as a handyman and lets him live in her mansion in the mountains of Utah, he thinks of her as a mentor. She, however, thinks of him as a plaything. Neither of them gets what they want.

In comes Eric Neill (Frederick Weller), a con man hired to lure Olivia and grab her real estate. When she ends up missing Eric is blamed, but Joel may be guilty. Local detective Nate Henry (Devin Ratray), smarmy sheriff Alan Pape (Beau Bridges) and Eric's sister Petra (Jennifer Ferrin) all search for answers, but no one's motivations are pure.

The strength of this series is certainly writing, though purists may be frustrated by the narrative's many ambiguities. Soderbergh uses a quick shooting and editing style, natural lighting, few takes and non-professional actors in the minor roles - which may be intended to look realistic but actually just come off as unaesthetic. The acting is all over the map, but the experience is intriguing and genuinely fun to watch.

This Blu-ray collection contains two episodes of a sensationalist television news magazine program called "Heart of Homicide," which sum up the plot and contain content about the series. These short programs are brilliant satires of the genre.



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