Amazon’s latest foray into original content is a surreal experience. “Homecoming” follows the the life of Walter Cruz, a war veteran who attempts to re-enter civilian life by joining the titular “Homecoming” project. The story is told through an ambitious production which boasts grandiose camera angles, elegant shots, detailed sets and Academy Award winner Julia Roberts. Released Nov. 2, “Homecoming” is a psychological thriller that will challenge viewers’ preconceptions coming in.
Roberts plays the role of Heidi Bergman, a caseworker at the facility who earns the trust and respect of the returning soldiers. Roberts’ kind and welcoming smile is gigantic enough for her character’s feelings to come across and maintain a reassuring demeanor to the soldiers, especially after she discovers the real reason why they’re being medicated at the facility by her manipulative boss, Colin Belfast (Bobby Cannavale).
“Homecoming” shifts between the past and the present, where Heidi has become a waitress and doesn’t seem to remember anything related to her past occupation. Only after an investigation from the Department of Defense does Heidi start to question her perception of reality. She discovers that she is just a pawn in a larger game, leading the viewer to ponder the roles that they knowingly or unknowingly play and the adverse consequences attached to them.
Although the show is paced slowly and could arguably be condensed into a two-hour film, patience becomes a minor hurdle when compared to the overwhelmingly positive attributes the series has to offer. Each episode is carefully constructed and layered, and one can appreciate the amount of thought that went into each detail, from the colors of the wall to the way a flashlight is moved in the dark. The camera encapsulates such scenic visuals that, sometimes, it’s necessary to pause, observe and reflect. Even without the dialogue, the storyline could easily be interpreted by following the swift camera movement and enigmatic background music that build anticipation and correlate with the intensity of the situation at hand.
If you enjoy puzzles, “Homecoming” is filled with an abundance of symbols that are begging to be analyzed. The fact that everything is so well-woven together comes as no surprise given that the ambitious team responsible is comprised of talented individuals who have collaborated on the sets of “Kill Bill,” “Mr. Robot” and “Stranger Things,” to name a few.
Although Roberts, Cruz and Cannavale give convincing performances, their acting alone isn’t enough to persuade us that this may be the fall’s best drama. Rather, it’s the whole combination that thrusts it to the top. If successful during awards season, the story’s unique formulation may serve as the standard blueprint for future shows.
Verdict: “Homecoming” is a slow burn that requires some thought and attentive viewing every episode, but if you’re up for the challenge, this Amazon original series will lavishly compensate you with compelling visuals among other delightful attractions.