In Amazon’s new original series Homecoming, Julia Roberts stars as Heidi Bergman, a therapist who helped returning soldiers deal with PTSD at a facility called Homecoming. Until something happened. But what?
This atmospheric, moody series from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail draws viewers to wonder what happened, keeping the mystery taut without losing the thread as it shifts between present and past. Its extraordinary combination of curious music choices, long camera shots, and cinematic sophistication is reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s work, but with a more contemporary—and paranoid—aesthetic.
Unlike many characters Julia Roberts has played, Heidi is opaque, tense, and taciturn. Roberts gives a powerful performance as a woman slowly gaining understanding of her situation. Bobby Cannavale exudes sinister sleaze in his role as head of the Homecoming program; Shea Whigham gives the show a footing in reality as the dogged investigator; and Stephan James lights up the screen as an earnest young vet eager to get back to his life.
As Homecoming leads viewers through the puzzle of its storyline, it raises thoughtful questions. How does our past define us? How much do our memories make up who we are? What does a therapist owe a patient? What does a government owe its military people? Homecoming is a vision of how hunger for power can dehumanize anyone who stands in the way.
Most interesting to me, the show wrestles with how we make up for things we can never undo. We can pretend it never happened, we can compartmentalize, or we can try to make it better. In the end our faulty intentions are in need of grace that people cannot always grant us.
Because of language and some mature themes, this show is rated TV-14. Homecoming is an absorbing way to while away a dark winter weekend. (Prime Video)