REVIEW / OPINION SERIES: In “Only Murders in the Building”, a detective comedy led by trio Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, three strangers investigate a mysterious suicide that hides a much bigger secret.
Do you really know your neighbors?
Created by John Hoffman and the incredible Steve Martin (The Pink Panther, A ticket for two), Only Murders in the Building is a detective mini-series inspired by adaptations of the work ofAgatha christie. Charles, a former TV series star played by Steve Martin, Oliver, an aging director played by Martin Short and Mabel, a mysterious young woman played by Selena Gomez, are three neighbors who are opposites. Yet these three strangers come together around a common passion: criminology podcasts. So, when a neighbor commits suicide, the apprentice investigators see it as the perfect opportunity to conduct their own investigation, creating an explosive cocktail of comedy and crime.
As in the most famous detective novels, no neighbor is exempt from the suspicions of the three investigators. Little by little, one secret reveals another and their investigation takes a new turn. The plans on the neighbors’ windows, inspired by Window on courtyard Alfred Hitchcock, remind us that everyone is suspect, even singer Sting. Steve Martin the grumpy, Martin Short the zany and Selena Gomez the young trendy, form a perfect trio. Best known for her singing career, Selena Gomez, who has already conquered the big screen by playing for Harmony Korine, Jarmusch and Woody Allen, is equally convincing on the small screen.
Only Murders in the Building : a meta and quirky series
The series is original on many points, especially in the writing. Charles, Oliver and Mabel decide to create their own podcast. Thus, each episode of the series corresponds to a new episode of the podcast. We are then witnessing a work both visual and auditory since the voice-overs are reminiscent of podcast narrators. The tones are serious and the suspense is assured. Only Murders in the Building also stands out in its staging. Indeed, very meta moments (where the characters are aware of being fictional characters), such as when suspects are interviewed on a Broadway scene and perform their way. All That Jazz by Bob Fosse, enrich the story. This sequence, out of Oliver’s imagination, is one of the highlights of the series. Other elements such as the integration of animated sequences bring visual added value to the series.
A question of rhythm
Even though the narrative construction of the series is interesting, a rhythm problem arises. For a series that focuses on a single news item to be able to convince, it must more captivate the viewer. Even if it is not the first series to focus on a single investigation (unlike some detective series which are renewed with each episode), we get lost in its length. For example, in the movie At loggerheads by Rian Johnson, if the investigation is solved in a two-hour film, it is not sloppy. To make a detective series in ten episodes was too ambitious. Six episodes would have been more than enough. Additionally, instead of focusing on and focusing on a set list of suspects, the series disperses itself with a focus on subplots. To want to say too much, Only Murders in the Building loses the viewer’s attention.
Only Murders in the Building, created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman, on Disney + from August 31. Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.