At a time when so many crime thrillers have a tendency towards the darkish, gritty and prestige-minded, Peacock’s Leopard Skin stands out for being none of these issues. While its setup sounds typical sufficient for the style — a botched heist, terrified hostages, secrets and techniques and standoffs and betrayals — its execution proves to be something however.
Created, written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez (Jett), this sequence dances from side to side in time, taking leisurely detours down semi-random rabbit holes and flights of fancy. It hardly ever misses a possibility to admire the fantastic thing about the (incessantly unclothed) feminine type, or to plug into the crackling rigidity, amorous or in any other case, coursing between its characters. It’s ostensibly a drama, however one studded with oddball jokes.
The Bottom Line
A sultry fever dream.
All these excesses are held collectively not with hermetic plotting, however via a hazy dream logic that at instances feels downright opaque. As such, what any of it quantities to, ultimately, is hard to say. As a direct expertise, although, its strangeness makes it intermittently, unexpectedly hypnotic — a string of mysterious however lurid pleasures, chopped up into manageable half-hour chunks.
Plot-wise, Leopard Skin hits the bottom operating so exhausting that originally, we don’t even know what we don’t know. The premiere rapidly introduces Alba (a mesmerizing Carla Gugino) and Batty (Gaite Jansen), two lovely girls rattling round an ethereal mansion on a distant Mexican seashore. But there’s barely time to marvel in the event that they’re lovers, roommates, or one thing else earlier than a trio of armed mercenaries (Gentry White’s Malone, Margot Bingham’s Clover and Nora Arnezeder’s Sierra) have pressured their approach in, searching for a spot to cover out whereas they get well from a job turned bitter.
The eight-episode season charts the state of affairs because it spirals uncontrolled from there. Clueless visitors — together with boorish documentarian Max (Philip Winchester), his bubbly youthful girlfriend Maru (Amelia Eve) and the house’s former housekeeper Inocencia (Ana de la Reguera) — get caught up within the fray. Meanwhile, the thieves scramble to get the higher hand on their boss, corrupt Miami decide LaSalle (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Escapes are tried, double crosses are thought of and all come to appreciate that the most effective they will hope for from the state of affairs would possibly merely be to make it out alive.
But the true meat of Leopard Skin lies within the hopelessly tangled internet of needs, jealousies and enmities knitting its characters collectively, some stretching again months or years. Gutierrez invitations us into these individuals’s innermost psyches, from their darkest intrusive ideas (just like the visions of a bloodied bride that hang-out Alba) to the tales they inform themselves about themselves (“My name is Max Hammond and I flirt with danger,” Max thinks to himself in a voiceover when he finds himself in a life-or-death pickle). Many of the small print we’re given method Wes Andersonian ranges of quirkiness: Of course Batty’s failed careers embody “underwater explorer” and “human mannequin,” as a result of that’s the form of story that is.
Which is to say that Leopard Skin has little interest in making an attempt to seize the way in which actual individuals behave, gown or speak. Gugino appears significantly well-suited for the fantasy that Gutierrez (her real-life accomplice and frequent skilled collaborator) has constructed round her, together with her smoky-honey voice and larger-than-life presence. These characters swan round their lavish houses in jewel-tone silks and skyscraper heels, and converse within the purple prose and stiff cadences of a stylized noir or a trashy cleaning soap. Sometimes, in dream sequences, they don’t converse in any respect, however talk psychically. Left alone in a home at night time, a lady tweaks her personal nipples whereas splashing milk down her personal throat, for the sheer lusty pleasure of it.
It’s foolish, and bizarre, and weirdly attractive, which is Leopard Skin‘s home turf. This is not a series that pretends to avert its gaze, or tries to act like it’s not turned on by what it’s seeing. To the opposite, it’s cheerful and indulgent in its smuttiness, relishing pictures of elaborately choreographed love scenes and unclothed our bodies lounging by swimming pools or writhing in beds. If Gutierrez’s halfhearted makes an attempt to solid a feminist sheen on all this (primarily feminine) bare enterprise are hardly ever convincing, he has a far stronger grasp of the psychological and emotional depths pulsing beneath its steamiest (spoiler-y) relationship. He is aware of learn how to shoot a intercourse scene, however he additionally acknowledges when the sexiest factor in a intercourse scene is the regular eye contact between characters whose kinky dynamic has been teased and fleshed out over a number of episodes.
Where Leopard Skin loses me once more is in making an attempt to puzzle out what I’m meant to remove from any of this. The sequence’ heightened type, fractured construction and style for surprising particulars makes watching it really feel akin to dreaming. As with the tales that go to us in our sleep, it’s fueled by visceral feelings higher felt than understood, and loaded with curious symbols that may imply every little thing or nothing. But as with all however probably the most intense of desires, its delights are in the end fleeting — wealthy sufficient to savor within the second, however fast to evaporate within the colder, brighter mild of morning.