Is Homecoming a dream or nightmare?
Homecoming is an Amazon Prime Video psychological mystery thriller about a military transitional support facility. Centring around Heidi Bergman, a former counsellor, and one of her patients, the series grapples with what happened at the institution, why the Geist Group disowned it and why Bergman has little recollection of the preceding events.
Roberts plays a hesitant, protective and private woman in Bergman, who finds herself detached and frustrated. She’s supported by Bobby Cannavale, Stephan James and a number of regulars such as Dermot Mulroney and Sissy Spacek.
Dealing with fresh starts, reintegration into society and conspiracy theories, Homecoming tries to unpack post-traumatic stress disorder against the backdrop of corporate and governmental interference.
The series has been given a cinematic treatment by Mr Robot creator Sam Esmail, influenced by the work of Hitchcock, Lynch, Soderbergh and De Palma, allowing the camera to glide with many long single shots.
The artful framing of the shots, retro production design and eerie soundtrack give Homecoming the feeling of being trapped in an alternate dimension. Using a different screen format to distinguish flashbacks, the series throws you in the deep end, hinting at the secrets at its core.
Artful framing of the shots, retro production design and eerie soundtrack give Homecoming the feeling of being trapped in an alternate dimension.
Homecoming has been influenced by shows like Twin Peaks and The X-Files, essentially turning itself into an extended film. Tipping the hat to Lynchland, they’ve used artificial lighting and heightened the spacey and strange atmosphere through unusual music.
A mysterious yet fractured ebb-and-flow to the narrative ensures unconventional and scattered storytelling. While the original Twin Peaks had a multi-genre format, Homecoming is more steady, rarely straying from its serious and dramatic headspace.
The experimental screen format, private prison-style rehabilitation centre and psychological thriller element are reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh’s TV film Unsane.
Its cinematic treatment is fresh, cleverly using its resources to piece together 30-odd-minute episodes. While the storytelling is quite fractured, it remains curious, blending elements such as the story of a bullet from Lord of War and Unsane to keep its hooks in a filmic, sweeping and rather operatic dimension.
The throwback style suits the slow-burning nature of the show, relying on performance, atmosphere and mood. A lingering air of mistrust fills the empty spaces in what seems like a confessional and dialogue-driven series. Using the power of imagination, many of the scenes are constructed offscreen as characters recount memories.
While the ensemble includes some considerable film talents, who do a good job with their characters, the feeling is quite vapid with a trickle of character development.
Homecoming is the sort of TV series that could be blended into one long film. While slow-moving, detached and slow-burning in terms of character, it’s boosted by the presence of Julia Roberts and friends. Operating like an independent, low-budget art house psychological thriller, it does well with what it’s been given, but could have used more polish.