Meet Olivia Lake
Moving Forward, Not Back
Ilsa From Finland
Fact and Fiction
There’s no denying the artistic integrity of HBO’s new non-linear murder mystery, Mosaic. Beautifully presented and taking full advantage of contrasting orange and blue colour palettes, Mosaic is a well shot, competently acted show. Coupled with the interactivity offered via a free app (which admittedly, we haven’t tried at the time of writing this review), there’s no denying that Mosaic is certainly a unique proposition. For long stretches of Mosaic, the show suffers from a lack of significant plot development. Long, drawn out scenes offer exhausting, monotonous dialogue segments that dissipate any excitement and make the show drag more than it probably should.
The story gravitates around Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone), a reputable children’s author and illustrator who’s murder is surrounded in scepticism. With a strictly non-linear format, Mosaic does do a good job of building a picture of what happened in the past and present but oftentimes at the expense of a tight narrative. Although the show’s pacing does improve at the midway point of the 6 episode arc, it’s quite a task to get there given the long, one shot conversations that dominate the show’s run time. The contrasting viewpoints are a nice touch and do add a bit of variety but don’t quite feel distinct enough to warrant the entire premise being formed around this idea. Unlike BBC One’s Rellik which utilised a unique concept that enhanced the viewing experience, Mosaic uniqueness feels like a gimmick rather than benefiting the viewing experience.
Although the plot moves at a snail’s pace, the actual characterisation and acting is top notch. It’s just a pity that the questionable way the conversations are filmed detract from their overall impact. Long, static camera shots never really show any close ups of the characters and the lack of quick cuts during dramatic bites of intense arguments or shocking reveals suck some of the energy and life out of the stellar acting. The minimalist soundtrack and lack of dramatic music only further accentuate this making Mosaic more of a passive watch than it really should be. Artistically, Mosaic is beautiful and certainly unique but it’s uniqueness ironically detracts from what’s otherwise a competently made mystery thriller.
Of course, some people will love Mosaic and those with patience are certainly rewarded by a slightly improved second half of this mystery thriller. This HBO miniseries is competently shot too although for long stretches of the exhausting dialogue, the passive approach to filming lacks the emotion needed to really feel close to the characters. As a technical piece and an interesting experiment, Mosaic is worth checking out but the uniqueness inherent here also detracts from a more gripping, emotionally charged narrative in a show that lacks urgency. This is certain to be one miniseries that polarises a lot of people but the lack of urgency and emotion for the characters means Mosaic is more of a passive watch than it has any right to be. There’s certainly potential here but certain stylistic choices and a lack of urgency in the plot detracts from what’s otherwise a beautiful and slow paced thriller.