Homecoming is based on a dramatic podcast, and the whole season of ten episodes is directed by Sam Esmail, who created and directed most of Mr. Robot. Oh, and it’s a half-hour drama. All those elements combine to give the show a very unique tone and feel. It’s bold and original. It doesn’t feel like anything else on television right now.
What it does feel like, and this is highly deliberate, especially on Mr. Esmail’s part, is The Parallax View, Capricorn One, The Conversation and other 1970s American paranoid conspiracy thrillers. It’s a total stylistic homage to those films and those directors, incorporating constant visual and aural references, particularly in the camera framing (and use of zooming), score, and title and cross-dissolve motifs. If you’re a fan of such cinema, you’re essentially predisposed to love this.
There’s a lot to love. The story is gripping, the performances – suiting the style – are a lot of fun, and the half-hour format is definitely fresh. Julia Roberts plays a counselor working for a government-contracted Florida-based Veteran’s program, called Homecoming, that aims to aid soldiers returning from the Middle East with their transition back to civilian life. But, of course, something nefarious is afoot. As the very embodiment of that nefariousness, Bobby Cannavle is (and has) a hoot, giving a very Bobby Cannavale performance. If you’ve listened to the podcast version, you’ll get a lot of enjoyment seeing the phone conversations between Roberts and Cannavale’s characters come to life.
But in the end, it is Esmail’s directorial flair, utilizing the cinematography and score, that puts this cool little oddity in the hoop. It just looks and sounds fantastic.