Steven Soderbergh's 'Mosaic' puts together intriguing puzzle

"Mosaic" takes its name seriously, putting together a picture with a shifting series of pieces, as the perspective sh...

Posted: Jan 22, 2018 4:13 PM
Updated: Jan 22, 2018 4:13 PM

"Mosaic" takes its name seriously, putting together a picture with a shifting series of pieces, as the perspective shifts from one character to another. In that, this HBO drama from director Steven Soderbergh essentially takes a pretty conventional murder mystery, dresses it up with a gimmick and comes away with a pretty compelling if somewhat conventional story.

The aforementioned gimmick involves an app made available in advance of the show, allowing viewers, as HBO puts it, to choose which characters to follow and "build their own experience from the material created and curated by Soderbergh and [writer Ed] Solomon."

Interactivity of this sort has long been discussed, and it's becoming more practicable. Still, as drama "Mosaic" ultimately has to stand on its own, especially for those who aren't interesting in availing themselves of the "Col. Mustard in the snow-covered cabin with a candlestick" add-ons.

Fortunately, what emerges is solidly executed, with a good, ever-changing cast, kicking off with Sharon Stone as successful children's author Olivia Lake. A bit of a Norma Desmond type, the lovelorn Olivia takes in a young aspiring artist ("Mudbound's" Garrett Hedlund), before snapping when she discovers that his interest in hanging around her sprawling winter wonderland might not be romantic.

Sharing her insecurities with a friend (Paul Reubens), Olivia quickly launches into another relationship with Eric (Frederick Weller), who harbors his own shadowy motivations, before abruptly going missing. That, in turn, leads to a police investigation, as the focus shifts again -- to Eric's sister (Jennifer Ferrin), and a cop (Devin Ratray) she enlists to help her -- with Soderbergh and Solomon ("Men in Black") keeping viewers guessing about whether this was simply a crime of passion or might be associated with a larger, more elaborate and nefarious plot.

Because the characters and perspective keep shifting, "Mosaic" benefits from what amounts to binge viewing, and HBO is breaking form a bit by displaying the program on its linear channel in that fashion: the six-part series will air over five successive nights, with the last two installments playing back to back.

Granted, "Mosaic" isn't as groundbreaking or novel as its purveyors might like people to believe, but it reflects Soderbergh's desire to play with the TV form, an approach he has brought both to his increasingly frequent forays into television, with "The Knick" and "Godless" as predecessors.

The underlying conceit of "Mosaic" is tied to the notion of TV consumption increasingly being a two-screen experience, tapping into viewers' appetites for additional content to augment passive viewing. That's all to the good, but still only works if the pixels that go into the main picture -- as this one mostly does -- adds up to being one worth watching.

"Mosaic" premieres Jan. 22 at 8 p.m. on HBO.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 483790

Reported Deaths: 6543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1003791583
Ramsey42945800
Dakota36091387
Anoka33200384
Washington21986254
Stearns18703200
St. Louis14746262
Scott13209107
Wright12489115
Olmsted1176188
Sherburne869772
Carver765240
Clay688887
Rice667191
Blue Earth591035
Kandiyohi578474
Crow Wing518381
Chisago496844
Otter Tail481370
Benton444890
Winona416649
Mower402731
Douglas392268
Nobles386547
Goodhue384468
Polk342262
McLeod338349
Beltrami336751
Morrison323547
Lyon312444
Itasca311646
Becker309941
Isanti305354
Carlton299848
Steele299211
Pine281916
Freeborn279823
Nicollet256041
Todd246330
Brown243537
Le Sueur233920
Mille Lacs226747
Cass219124
Waseca208617
Meeker206934
Martin188228
Wabasha18613
Roseau179617
Hubbard160640
Houston157114
Dodge15154
Renville149040
Redwood146527
Fillmore13708
Chippewa135935
Cottonwood134520
Pennington131816
Wadena130220
Faribault122716
Aitkin118733
Sibley117110
Watonwan11708
Rock115614
Kanabec107319
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9438
Jackson93310
Swift87918
Pope8025
Marshall77615
Stevens7398
Lake73518
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68216
Wilkin66910
Koochiching61711
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5052
Grant4908
Norman4768
Unassigned44568
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40821
Red Lake3625
Traverse3025
Lake of the Woods2161
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 361499

Reported Deaths: 5412
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58007549
Linn20606312
Scott18279207
Black Hawk16223290
Woodbury14924211
Johnson1380473
Dubuque13522194
Dallas1132690
Pottawattamie10762143
Story1018945
Warren553474
Clinton542484
Cerro Gordo532781
Webster517687
Marshall495572
Sioux493469
Buena Vista472736
Des Moines457061
Muscatine450691
Wapello4314108
Jasper416266
Plymouth394277
Lee374752
Marion358469
Jones294354
Henry293037
Carroll285348
Bremer279154
Crawford273435
Boone259130
Washington253747
Benton252054
Mahaska223846
Jackson221138
Dickinson217238
Tama212965
Kossuth208154
Clay193125
Hamilton191942
Delaware188639
Winneshiek188427
Buchanan184629
Fayette184335
Page182619
Hardin180839
Wright179531
Harrison179469
Cedar177023
Clayton168053
Butler165831
Mills162820
Floyd162740
Madison154018
Poweshiek153630
Cherokee153535
Hancock146729
Lyon145941
Allamakee144946
Iowa144223
Grundy138830
Appanoose138647
Jefferson138232
Winnebago137730
Calhoun133311
Cass133351
Mitchell130640
Louisa128341
Union126331
Chickasaw124813
Sac124218
Emmet120940
Shelby120433
Franklin118419
Humboldt117225
Guthrie116228
Palo Alto104921
Montgomery103936
Howard102821
Clarke100320
Unassigned9850
Keokuk97829
Monroe93128
Adair91928
Ida90832
Pocahontas85219
Davis82523
Monona81527
Greene76910
Lucas73221
Osceola70314
Worth6947
Taylor66312
Fremont5869
Decatur5749
Van Buren56018
Ringgold51820
Wayne48721
Audubon4869
Adams3264
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